Fourth Sunday of Lent – Year A

Michael H. Bielecki, O.S.A.
Province Secretary
Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova

1 Sm 16: 1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Ps 23: 1-3a, 3b-4 5, 6
Eph 5: 8-14
Jn 9: 1-41

“Do not judge by appearance….not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart.” [1 Sam. 16]

We often hear the word “grace” used in religious conversation and may wonder what grace really is.

One theologian defines grace as: “God’s self communication outside the Trinity.” In other words, God is revealing God’s self and communicating with us all the time through nature, people and situations. All is grace!

Another way to understand grace is to realize that grace is the gift of faith that reveals God’s loving and helpful presence and enables us to see God’s purposes in life as opportunities to love God, others and ourselves and realize that God’s vision of us and our life is very different from what we may perceive it to be. “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart.” [1 Sam. 16]

For example, we may often label life’s struggles as disasters when, in reality, they are invitations to see that God has a plan different from ours. [If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.]

How radically our lives would change if we would allow God to fill them with his own vision of life. How our lives would change if we would not be blind to God’s ways.

Our belief in God’s love is challenged, however, when we experience suffering and difficulties. The problem is not with the Lord, but with our inability to see God at work in our lives, it is our blindness that is the problem.

Blindness in the scriptures is a symbol of the lack of faith. In moments of difficulty, we need to ask ourselves if our failure to see God’s ways is the lack of our trusting response to that situation.

We often hear the words “paschal mystery” in the prayers we pray in the liturgy. The acceptance of the “paschal mystery” in our lives requires that the death/resurrection dynamic which Jesus experienced must occur in our lives as well by our trusting in God’s plan no matter what.

How could that practically happen for us daily?

It could happen for us if we looked beyond appearances.

It could happen if we decided to see the poor and helpless in our midst as worthy of respect; rather than objects of disdain.

It could happen if we saw all people as our sisters and brothers.

It could happen for us if we did not judge the wayward members of our family, seeing them as a disgrace to the family name, but also as persons who exhibit genuine human qualities that we choose to ignore in order to concentrate on their obvious failures.

It could happen if we did some critical thinking and honestly evaluated the opinions that others give us and not swallow them hook, line and sinker.

Do we believe those opinions are right merely because of who told us them, or are others hurt because we are too weak to stand up to untruths?

Do we generally derive our criteria for the judgment of a situation or person from gospel values, or from hearsay?

A change in our blindness would depend upon our ability to live out the death-resurrection dynamic called the paschal mystery.

Could I really place someone else before my own preferences, prejudices or desires? I could if I did not demand that everyone see things the way I do and do what I want, but allow myself to die and see things the way someone else does. That would require that I forget myself for a change and remember that there are others in this world that deserve what I believe I always deserve. It would require that I drop my prejudice about someone and see them differently.

We often say: “If I lived in a different neighborhood or community, with different people, or if I had a different job, I would be happy. Perhaps our situation calls for the radical change that would allow us to have God’s vision to see our world as God sees it. That is not easy for us, but all things are possible for God.

Jesus often turns our world upside-down in order to stretch us and our vision. The Good News is that we may see God’s kingdom right here and right now by dropping our illusions of where and how we think God should manifest God self and accept God’s vision of life, even in those situations which annoy and challenge us to change what we perceive.

Let us pray that our blindness may be cured so that we might recognize HOW RADICALLY OUR LIVES WOULD CHANGE IF WE WOULD ALLOW GOD TO FILL THEM WITH HIS OWN VISION OF LIFE and we would begin to “see” not as man sees but as God sees, with the eyes of faith. We would then realize that we see only the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart.

The good news of today’s liturgy is that God sees us differently than we see ourselves and that he has the power to heal us of our spiritual blindness so that we too may see ourselves and others as God sees.

Let’s ask for that grace at this Eucharist.