Bishop Glen John Provost
Bishop of Lake Charles
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Lake Charles, Louisiana
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?” John 9:35
On most First Fridays and first Wednesdays of every month, I meet with groups of men and women respectively to read the Sacred Scriptures and reflect on them. This year we have been reading the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans and we came to this passage in March, “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). How else do we “offer [our] bodies as a living sacrifice” unless we join them to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross? We die with Jesus on the cross when we put to death in our bodies that which keeps us separated from God’s love—sin.
In the Gospel today a man born blind is given his sight. The account begins with a discussion about whose sin caused his blindness. Our Lord points out that it was not his sin or that of his parents. Instead he was born blind so that “the works of God might be made visible through him” (John 9:3). Jesus is not denying the existence of sin or that it carries consequences. He is speaking of an innocent man whom God has chosen through Him to work a miracle to bring about a beautiful profession of faith that will conclude this episode. “I do believe, Lord” (John 9:37). I also see the blind man as reflecting Christ.
God sends His Son as an innocent victim. That Son will suffer and die for sins He did not commit. And God will transform what appears to be His defeat into the victory of the Resurrection. The man born blind is very much a figure of Christ.
For receiving his sight from Jesus, the man born blind suffers innocently the scrutiny of the Pharisees. Jesus cured on a Sabbath. In the mind of the Pharisees He must, therefore, be a sinner. How could He have worked this miracle? The man responds that Jesus is a prophet (John 9:17). The Pharisees call in his parents, who refuse to take responsibility for him (John 9:21). The man is left very much alone and is summoned again for interrogation. Frustrated by the man’s insistence that “God does not listen to sinners” and that Jesus must be from God because otherwise He would be unable to do marvelous works like this (John 9:31, 33), the Pharisees indignantly expel the man. Jesus finds him, invites his faith, and the man falls down and worships Him.
When we profess our faith in Jesus Christ, we leave something behind. We become a “living sacrifice.” This is a painful experience because we are laying aside something of our old self. We speak of this as dying to sin. We call it repentance. This dying to sin is necessary because the old must pass away so that the new can take its place. As Jesus says at the end of this Gospel, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind” (John 9:39).
Those forgiven who have become a “spiritual worship” have been given something new. In so doing we not only benefit from the marvelous gift of God’s mercy but also can suffer consequences. We must embrace the courageous faith of the man born blind, whose name is never mentioned so that we might more easily identify with him. Our faith grows stronger with every trial, until finally we come face to face with the one who worked this miracle of God’s grace in us—Jesus Christ, our Lord, the one to whom our sight is directed.
Bishop Glen John Provost