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Bishop's Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Lent

March 19, 2023

[Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace; Our Lady, Queen of Angels, Kula (Confirmation & First Communion)]

I once lived in a rectory with five other priests.  We often ate dinner together, and we would normally take whatever place at the table was available.  However, the person who came in last usually was left with the seat at the head of the table – except for one of the priests.  Whenever he was last, someone else had to get up and move there, because he insisted he was too humble to sit at the head of the table.  Unfortunately, he was blind to how proud he was of his humility!

In pro-abortion rhetoric, we often hear that if you do not accept abortion, you are anti-woman.  Those who say this are blind to the fact that most of the people in the pro-life movement are women!  And I am often amazed how often in the Gospels Jesus performs some fantastic miracle – like feeding the multitudes, or healing the sick, or giving sight to the blind – and then some people tell him, “Show us some sign that you are from God.”  They are blind to the incredible sign they just witnessed.

Blindness to our faults probably means that we will never be able to overcome them, since we do not even see them.  And even though the blind man in today’s Gospel did not sin, perhaps Jesus teaches us, through him, that the best thing he can do for us is smear spitty mud in our eyes, so that we know something needs to be washed away and then we will be able to see more clearly.  During this season of Lent, we actually ask the Lord to put the mud of our sins in our eyes, so that we will no longer be blind to them, but can know how much we are in need of repentance.  Today we celebrate the Second Scrutiny with our Elect who will be fully initiated into the Church at the Easter Vigil, and, in effect, we ask them to put the mud of their sins right before their eyes, so that they can be washed away and they can be sent to tell the Good News of Jesus.

Of course, we can be just as blind to the blessings God has given us as we are to our sins.  We can convince ourselves that we need more money, more power and prestige, more control over others – and only then will we be lovable.  The Lord, who is light, wants us to give thanks and praise to him, no matter our circumstance, because then we will better be able to see the many blessings we have been given – and even see the challenges of life as blessings.

Once the blind man was able to see, then he was able to look on the face of the Holy One of God himself, on Jesus, whom he worshipped as the true and living God.  Are we sometimes blind to the presence of Jesus right here with us in the Eucharist?  If someone said, “Jesus is appearing at the church across town,” would we rush there; or would we stay right where we are, because we know that Jesus is truly present to us right here in the Eucharist?  When these children receive their First Communion today, they are not receiving some sacred object, but a Person who loves them so much he laid down his life for them?  We can also be blind to this reality and think we only go to Mass because it is an obligation, or because we enjoy the music, or the people, or the preaching.  These all should enhance our experience, but they are never the main reason we go to Mass.  It is to be in the presence of Jesus Christ himself, who wants to be in an intimate and holy Communion with us.  It is like a family that enjoys gathering every Sunday for a special meal together.  It becomes an obligation to be there, in a sense, because everyone wants to see everyone else in the family.  So it is with our coming to this sacrificial meal of the Eucharist, where we encounter Jesus as our head and become knitted together as members of his Body.

Yes, there is so much mud and filth in our eyes that we are blinded to the presence of the Light, but Jesus is here to wash it all away and to shine brightly for us as the light of each person and the light of the world.