Fr. Jolly’s Homily for Sunday, March 22, 2020

Homily for the 4th Sunday of Lent-2020

Theme: We are not focusing on coronavirus. We are focusing on Jesus. Let’s remember “the giant in front of you is never bigger than the God inside of you!” Peace be with you!

Michael Yaconeli was Christian writer. In his book “God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People”, he tells the story of a man recently converted to Jesus and how an unbelieving friend sought to “see” why.  “So you have been converted to Christ?”  “Yes.”  “Then you must know a great deal about Him.  Tell me, what country was he born in?”  “I don’t know.”  “What was his age when he died?”  “I don’t know.”  “How many sermons did he preach?”  “I don’t know.”  “You certainly know very little for a man who claims to be converted to Christ.”  “You are right.  I am ashamed at how little I know about him.  But this much I know: Three years ago I was a drunkard.  I was in debt.  My family was falling to pieces; they dreaded the sight of me.  But now I have given up drink. We are out of debt.  Ours is a happy home.  My children eagerly await my return home each evening.  More than everything, I have Peace in my heart! All this Christ has done for me.  This much I know of Christ.”  Does it not sound like the answers given by the blind man healed by Jesus in today’s gospel?

John Henry Cardinal Newman was a professor at Oxford University. When he was an Anglican priest, along with the other scholars, he started the Oxford movement. When he was thirty-two years old, his health was bad and he took a break from his writings and went to Europe to recuperate. But unfortunately, he contracted a deadly fever. He wanted to return to England, but no transportation was available. As he waited, his life became lonely and tedious; he was experiencing great physical and emotional despair. It was then that he penned a beautiful hymn asking God for light: “Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, Lead Thou me on; The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on: Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see the distant scene-one step enough for me.” In his confusion and distress, Newman prayed to the God of Light to lead him from darkness to light, from confusion to certainty, and from sickness to health. God heard his prayer and led him home safely. In 1845, he converted to the Roman Catholic faith. Indeed, the Lord of light led him from confusion to conviction; darkness to light, from death and dying to life.

It is said of Hindu religion which is 1000s and 1000s of years old. The great gurus and sages of that religion would give up everything and go up to Mount Himalayas and pray not for any kind of material blessings or physical blessings; rather they would pray “Lord of light lead me from confusion to conviction; darkness to light, from death and dying to life”. As a result Jesus came! Science says we need at least four essential things to survive; water, air, food and light. Jesus came and said: I am the living water; I am the breath of life; I am the bread of life and I am the light of the world.  Science is right; we need Jesus to live.

Today’s bible reading has two lessons. It reminds us that it is God who gives us proper vision in body as well as in soul and again it instructs us that we should be constantly on our watch against spiritual blindness. In this episode, the most unlikely person, namely the blind man, receives the light of faith in Jesus, while the religion-oriented, law-educated Pharisees remain spiritually blind.   To be a Christian is all about seeing; seeing God as He is, seeing our brothers and sisters as they are and seeing yourself as you are!  The blind man’s progress in spiritual sight is paralleled by the opponents’ descent into spiritual blindness. The Pharisees have long since disappeared from history, there are still many among us who are blinded by the same pride and prejudice.

Did you ever wonder why in today’s story Jesus heals the blind man with spittle?
The reason is that in the days of Jesus, the Jewish people believed that the spittle from the first born of every family had a great healing power. By following that tradition of the Jewish people, which is using spittle in the healing of the blind man, Jesus is testifying to everybody that He was the first born of God the Father, and the only begotten Son of God.

Why did Jesus make the clay to heal the blind man? As written in Genesis 2:7 “God formed Adam and Eve out of the clay of the ground— ” it was to reveal a spiritual truth to everybody that we are created from clay and we will return to dust. In other words our life in this world is short. Be careful in living that short life. Be a nice and wonderful person so that you can have eternal and everlasting life.

In this story the person is blind. So how did he get to Jesus?  The Bible says “They brought a blind man…” People brought him to Jesus. It is the responsibility of those who can see to bring the blind to Jesus. It is the responsibility of believers to bring nonbelievers to Christ. We should not be satisfied to allow others to remain in blindness…we need to bring them to the Light of the World. People who have no faith are spiritually blind. Are you such a good friend? Do you bring your friends to Jesus so that they can see the truth?

In this story we will wonder why Jesus had difficulty making this miracle work. In the past he could speak a single word and have the dead walk or the mute speak. Merely touching the edge of his garment was enough to get healed. So what happened here?

Such a gradual restoration of physical sight represents the idea that people only gradually acquire the spiritual “sight” to truly understand Jesus and Christianity. At first, he sees in a way that is similar to how the apostles and others saw Jesus: dimly and distorted, not comprehending his true nature. After more grace from God works on him, however, full sight is achieved — just as grace from God can bring about full spiritual “sight” if we allow it.

A few years ago, two young ladies came to the daily mass. After the mass, they met me at the back and one of them said, it was her 1st time in a church ever. Her friend was not happy that she was walking in darkness. So she brought her to the church. But lady said “at the Mass, she saw Christ and she is now planning to become Catholic”. How many masses we have gone to?  How many sermons we have heard? Everyday our humble prayer has to be “open the eyes of my heart O Lord, I want to see you”!!!

In the gospel story today, a blind man who used to sit and beg became a disciple and then went about witnessing to Jesus. He might have been sharing Jesus and good news of great joy. That’s our challenge during these days of corona crisis. Rather than being frightened after listening to Satan and sharing a message of discouragement, let’s listen to Jesus and encounter him in our prayer time and in reading the scriptures and share the message of hope, the message of peace and positivity to our family and friends. Let’s be good friends: friends of Jesus who is full of goodness! Let’s remember “the giant in front of you is never bigger than the God inside of you”! Peace be with you!