March 26, 2017 Fourth Sunday in Lent Fr Jim Miller

Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 26, 2017

Reading 11 SM 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A


Responsorial PsalmPS 23: 1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

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

Reading 2EPH 5:8-14

Verse Before The GospelJN 8:12

GospelJN 9:1-41

Homily— March 25 & 26, 2017


            In the first reading Samuel is sent to Jesse of Bethlehem to anoint one of his sons as king.   When Samuel saw Jesse and his sons he picked out Eliab as the one that God would want him to anoint.   But the Lord said to Samuel:  “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him.  Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.”  So how do you look at other people?   Do you give them the benefit of the doubt?   Do you withhold your judgment until you get to know them?  

            I was driving down the street this week and saw a young man with his pants so far down that he was revealing his underwear.   I had the thought that a little yank would bring his pants down to his knees.   As I was preparing this homily I realized that I was judging by appearances and not really thinking about where his heart was but Jesus would have been looking at his heart rather than at how he was dressed.   I still do not like that style of dressing though.

            In the gospel the disciples make a judgment about the blind man as they assume that he is blind because of his own sin or that of his parents.   Jesus sets them straight by saying that “neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”   Jesus spat on the ground and made some mud that he put on the eyes of the blind man and sends him off to wash in the Pool of Siloam.  I wonder if the person healed of blindness in today’s Gospel was excited to have mud put on his eyes, or did he feel foolish stumbling to the pool?

            Just as God didn’t consult Eve and Adam about the potential benefits of creating them, Jesus approached the blind man with the earth-ointment of healing without asking him if he wanted to see.  But once Jesus offered him the possibility of sight, mysterious as it must have sounded, the man did what Jesus told him to do and that led to transformation.   What a gift it was to be able to see!!

            The second reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is tied to the first by the question of discernment.  Samuel had to discern which man God had chosen.  David, under the life-long influence of God’s Spirit, was called to discern how to be the sort of king God had chosen him to be.  In this reading, Paul calls us to discern how to walk in the light, how to be pleasing to God.  Comparing these passages, we will note that God spoke rather directly to Samuel—even telling him, “This is the one!”  We, like David, have a harder time deciphering the will of God in our everyday lives.

            One of the challenges that I have inherited as your pastor is what to do with the old schools and old church.   In speaking with the members of the Pastoral Council, the Finance Council and the Committee Planning for the Future of Nativity it became apparent that parking is very important to us and that having space to build in the future is also important.  

            I talked to the representative of Miller-Valentine Company last week and he said that they should know about whether they have the tax credits to build the 50 unit apartment complex on the 30th of this month.   The cost of demolition of the old school and church is $250,000 and the cost of asbestos abatement of the buildings is approaching $130,000 and the cost of reinforcing the West wall and shutting off the gas line and the water line is another $20,000.   The good news is that when the buildings are down we will be able to save about $30,000 a year on insurance and upkeep.    The agreement with Miller-Valentine will cover the majority of the costs.   This week I was humbled to receive a check from the Kay Hoffman estate for $138,939.55.   Thank you, Kay.  May you rest in peace with God in heaven.  The garage sale will also be a real help in taking care of the added costs to our budget this year.   Thank you to Greg McGinn and all of his volunteers.   I also want to name Keith Krapfl for all of his work and guidance in preparing the buildings for demolition.   The fire department has contacted me to use the building for some training before it comes down.   In our discernment for the future I believe we are making good decisions but they are not easy.  There are many memories in those school rooms and hallways and in the old church.   I thank all of you who help make Nativity such a caring place with good memories.  Change is not easy for any of us.

            As you go forth from this Mass remember you are to seek the light and look to the heart of others and strive to live the faith.   Continue to discern the will of God in your life and what is God calling you to do.