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Today we hear of a miraculous healing of a blind man. It occurs near a pool of water. We remember last week that Jesus spoke to the woman at a well. Both these events show how Jesus uses water as a symbol of grace. Water is essential for life on earth. Grace is essential for life in Heaven. In baptism these two are combined, water and grace, and we are recreated, born again in the Spirit and receive the light of Christ. God used water at the very beginning to create life. The very first words of the Bible in Genesis says that at first everything was dark. Then the Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters “and God said let there be light.” God’s light removes the darkness and brings life. After light appeared, God took clay, dirt, and created man. And why? So that man can know God and worship him. In the Gospel after meeting the blind man, Jesus says “While I am in the world I am the light of the world.” Then he does something very strange, Jesus spat on the ground, made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on the eyes of the blind man. Then He tells him: “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam.” Why would Jesus do something so strange? Jesus is revealing that he is the same creative light that was there at the beginning of the world. He is the Creator God who is now doing something similar - he uses water and clay, dirt, to recreate man. Therefore the washing in the pool of Siloam is a symbol of the new life in Christ. And when the blind man followed the directions of Jesus he came back able to see. We begin our new life when we are born again through baptism and move from darkness to the light.

Jesus heals the blind man but there is something much more to the story than a man receiving his natural sight. There is an even greater miracle at work, a deeper purpose of why Jesus recreated this man’s eyes so that he may see the world. It is so that the man may have supernatural light in order to know God and worship him. And so Jesus asks the man: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and then the Gospel says, “he worshiped him.” That is the point of the miracle, so that he may come to recognize God and worship him. And this is the point of our Christian life, to see God and worship him. God gives us the grace through baptism to hear his words in the Scriptures and to see his true presence in the Eucharist. But we have to cooperate with this grace with our will. It isn’t automatic. That is why after he washed in the pool and could see light for the first time, Jesus asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Our Lord asks us the same thing: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Let us answer in the same way as the man who gained his sight: “I do believe Lord.” But more importantly let us practice our belief by worshiping Jesus. We worship God through the Liturgy. The word liturgy means “the work of God.” Many of our teens recently studied this in their catechism. Liturgy is, therefore, a double action: The first is from God and the second is our response to God. 1) In the liturgy, Christ works on us to restore us and recreate us through his grace that he offers us through his life, death, and resurrection. That is why all the sacraments are celebrated in a liturgy: Baptism, Reconciliation, marriage, and the highest form of Liturgy, the Holy Mass. 2) Liturgy is our response to Christ by worshiping him and doing his work in the world.

In preparing my homily for this Sunday, I called my Southern Baptist cousin, R.J., who you may remember has been blind since birth. I wanted to get his take on today’s Gospel and what he thought was the most important point. He first told me that it is his favorite Gospel story. Then he said to me that the actual miracle of the man receiving his sight is not the most important thing. More important was when Jesus said that the man was born blind “so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” Now R.J. has not been cured of physical blindness, but he realizes that he sees things on a more important level, through the eyes of faith. He lives his life for the glory of God, in a continuous action of worship and gratitude for Christ’s saving grace. He rejoices in the Lord always. He sings about his goodness. He is cheerful and kind. Despite his disability, he has earned a doctorate in biblical studies. He uses modern technology to communicate the Gospel to many people. He is not bitter that he is blind. He is grateful to have life and to know Jesus. You see there was a miracle that occurred in his life. He was born prematurely and weighed less than a pound and a half – the smallest baby in the whole country at the time. He was given only a 2% chance of survival. And so he sees his life as a gift from God. And he realizes that Jesus offers him eternal life. And now he wants to enter the Catholic Church and become a priest. So I truly believe he is a testimony to our Lord’s words that the works of God are being made visible through him.

God does not choose the able but the disabled in order to manifest his goodness. Much like he chose David, the smallest of the brothers of Jacob, to be the King of Israel, as described in in the first reading, like the blind man in the Gospel, like my cousin R.J. In the Gospel it was those who could see that were actually blind. They did not recognize Jesus as God. We have to be careful not to reject the work of God because of our spiritual blindness, our pride or fear. We should not use excuses that we are not able to follow the Lord because we are too weak. What weakness do you have? What disabilities do you struggle with? We all have our struggles and weakness, our doubts and insecurities. We don’t have to be the smartest, strongest, or most gifted to be loved by God. In our weakness we learn to trust in his power. He’ll give us the grace to do his work if we humbly believe in him. And we do believe, that is why we come here each Sunday to the liturgy of the Eucharist, so that we may see and believe the Christ is with us. All of us who have been baptized have received a great miracle from the Lord. We are part of the new creation, we have been born again by water and spirit, we have the light of Christ to guide us in this dark world.

Today is called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is Latin for Rejoice. It comes at the midpoint of Lent in anticipation for Easter. Despite the sadness in the world and in our own personal lives we can still rejoice because we have faith in the Resurrection that we will soon celebrate in few weeks and that we will soon enter into at the end of our life. This is the gift Jesus gives us. The more we realize that Jesus has done this for us, the more we can make our life an act of worship to him and rejoice in the Lord always. Amen.

St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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