Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World prior to a given Sunday. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
4th Sunday of Lent, Year A | March 29/30, 2014
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading.
There is a student that I work with at Nativity who has been a discipline issue since the day he walked into our building.
It seemed that every time I turned around, he was sitting in the chairs outside of the discipline office.
Now to be honest, usually, I walked right by. Someone else’s problem right? I’ve got a cafeteria to rearrange, copies to make, a lesson to teach. Someone else was going to have to figure out what was wrong with him.
But one afternoon, I was the only one on duty. So it fell to me to figure out what had happened this time.
As I plopped down next to him, I asked, “Why is it always you?”
He didn’t say a word. But his whole demeanor changed. He sunk into the chair, head hung in shame. Tears glistening in his eyes, he whispered, “I don’t know.”
And it was in that moment, that my own eyes were opened.
For I realized that I had stopped believing in this child’s ability to change. I had given up on an 11 year-old.
And yet here I was, surprised that he wasn’t changing. How could he believe in himself, if I didn’t believe in him?
So imagine my discomfort as I read this Gospel. For here I was staring at my own reflection in the scene we have just heard. Not in the man born blind, but in everyone who surrounded him.
– In his parents who refused to see that their son had changed. Who still kept picturing him as the little child that they had known.
– In the Pharisees who refused to listen. Who could not comprehend that they could ever learn from someone like him. A broken, sinful outcast.
See, today’s Gospel is most certainly about blindness, but not necessarily the physical kind.
It is about the blindness that prevents us from seeing how Christ is at work in those around us, changing them, forming them, leading them on a journey of growth and self-discovery.
It is about the blindness that causes us to cut people out of our lives for wounds that were dealt decades ago . . . money that was stolen, words that were said, trust that was betrayed, slights that were suffered.
It is about the blindness that causes us to label and judge another . . . for how they wear their jeans or who they choose to love, for how they choose to vote or for how often we see them at Mass.
It is about the blindness that prevents us from seeing that people can and must change. . . that children will grow up and make decisions that confuse or frustrate us. That the person one marries is not the same person that you share an empty nest with. That the class clown, the bully, the player, the nerd are no longer the same kids we knew in high school.
It is about the blindness that causes us to give up on ourselves. To believe the lies that we have been told. That we cannot change. That we must always be stressed or angry, bitter or depressed. That the wounds will never heal. That our addictions cannot be overcome. That our reputations will never change. That we will never be truly happy.
But fear not my friends.
For like the blind man, we too are given an invitation this day. An invitation to see.
To see ourselves as God sees us
To see each person as God sees him or her.
For we are God’s chosen people. We are his sons and daughters . We are the sheep that he shepherds. We are the ones that God loves.
And like the blind man, our response to this invitation may take time.
We may need to do the hard work of forgiving and letting go
Of swallowing our pride and making the first move
Of removing our walls and letting another back in
Of abandoning our comfort zone and risking failure
Of accepting the hard truths that we are special, that we are chosen, that we are loved.
But as we gradually come to see, we need not fear the unknown, For we are assured that our God is with us to guide us from our darkness into the light.
Praise God my friends that we can change.
Thank heavens that I was changed. That God is still changing me.
For there is a 6th grade student that now seeks me out every day to tell me that he’s not giving up.
And this time, I believe him.
May God be Praised
Image courtesy of http://cruzblanca.org/hermanoleon/index.htm