March 22, 2020 Fourth Sunday in Lent Fr Andy Upah

Fourth Sunday of Lent

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Reading 2 EPH 5:8-14

Verse Before The Gospel JN 8:12

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Gospel JN 9:1-41

Homily for KDTH on the Fourth Sunday of Lent 3/22/2020

Today’s readings talk of blindness, physical and spiritual blindness, and how we see so much differently than how God sees.  Our gospel reading is a great story of one man who overcame blindness, and others who did not.

There was a man born blind, and the apostles asked why, wondering if it was because of his sin or his parents' sin, but Jesus says it’s neither, and it was to show the glory of God.  Jesus opened the eyes of the blind man, saw the glory of God face-to-face, believing that Jesus was God, yet the Pharisees still refused to believe, despite the obvious healing miracle, they were still blind by their pride, they could not see the glory of God, which was Jesus right in front of them.

Can you remember a time of blindness in your life, where suddenly your eyes were opened?  Maybe it was spiritually; maybe it was the first time you fell in love; maybe it was when a person you thought was perfect fell from grace and let you down, lots of different ways our eyes have been opened.

For me, there is one moment that stands out above the rest.  I was at a Catholic Men’s Conference in Cedar Rapids and the keynote speaker started to talk about the Eucharist and Confession straight from scripture.  

Now, I had grown up Catholic, went to Communion every Sunday and Confession every Advent and Lent, but for some reason I had never read through John chapter 6 and John 20:23, and what’s worse is I had basically left the faith in college.

But now, hearing these distinctly Catholic teachings for what seemed like the first time straight from scripture, my blindness was lifted, my eyes were opened, and I dove into the bible, that day I began reading cover to cover to see what else I had missed. 

That was back in 2007, so after five years of scripture study and prayer, I decided to quit my job and enter the seminary to become a priest so that I could make sure others didn’t walk away from their faith like I had almost done. I wanted to be able to emphasize and provide the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession, believing that those encounters with Jesus to be so vitally important to our faith.

That is the ironic thing about right now, with this whole Chinese Coronavirus, I can’t do either of the things I like to do the most as a priest, I can’t provide the sacraments to people. But despite that lack, I can still minister in other ways, I can still take the time to grow in my own faith, I can still find ways that I am blind... we all can do those things.

You see, blindness manifests itself in so many different ways, in our faith yes, but also in self-righteousness, closed-mindedness, lack of belief, fear, an air of superiority, and so on.

I’ve been describing this time in the middle of Lent as Jesus taking us into the desert, with seemingly nothing else to do, we can take the time to explore our faith life, to increase our prayer life, to examine how we have been treating God and our neighbor, and resolve to do better once things return to normal.

Things will return to normal, I have no doubt, but the biggest risk is that we return to normal ourselves.  No, we cannot return to where we were before, we must grow during this time, we must make the most of these opportunities to grow in our faith, with the help of God’s grace and love.

We must allow our blindness to be overcome by our deepening trust in our God, in Jesus Christ our savior, who loves us so much that he came to earth to suffer and die for our sins, that we would rise again with Him in the newness of life, not hampered by our blindness, but living in the light. 

I challenge each one of you to read the bible every day, to pray about how God is speaking to you through His word, and to stay attentive to God working in your life. Check Nativity’s Facebook page for daily readings and other resources, but read God’s Holy Word, listen to the message and ask God to reveal your own blindness to you. We have an opportunity like never before… the world has essentially stopped, like extended snow days, giving us time to grow in our faith.

I pray the Lord would bless us all in these days of turmoil, that we would always know of His presence and His deep love for us as His beloved children.