Homily 4th Sunday of Lent – 19th March

This Gospel reading is one of the relatively few incidents that is recorded in each of the four Gospels.

But where Matthew, Mark and Luke report the event, and incorporate it into the whole of their Gospels, John translates it. He translates it into images. Two images really, to which the incident, the healing of the blind man, lends itself very well. The Images of darkness and of light.

The darkness of the man born blind is really just a symbol of the darkness that can, at times, surround us, into which we can stumble. And the light of the new vision given to him is, for us, a symbol of the light that can change or renew our world.

And the light does indeed make us new. When the man came back from the pool at Siloam, when he had moved out of the darkness and into the light, some of his neighbours didn’t recognise him.

That light changes our lives. It changes us. We are not the same once we have moved into the truth, the light. Old patterns, old attitudes, old ways of relating to those around us change. They just aren’t good enough anymore.

The pharisees, those who had an investment in the darkness, began to question the man, question him challengingly. He was different now and that made him a threat. They ask him, “What happened?” “Who did this?” “Where is he?” and the man really doesn’t know.

In fact, all that the man knew was that the light was good. His life was better than it had been.

This exchange between the man and the pharisees is a beautifully crafted passage. In effect, the pharisees are trying to convince him that what had happened to him really wasn’t good, that he should be suspicious of it, even reject it. And it would have been easy for him to have agreed with them. But he did not. He could not give a coherent, convincing defence of what had happened. He didn’t even try. Nor did he ask anyone else to do so. Not even his parents. He simply knew that whatever had happened it was good. He didn’t try to strip his movement of mystery and risk. He simply focused on the fact that the darkness was bad, and whatever had happened it wasn’t the darkness, so it must be better. For him, Christ did not need to be explained or defended. He only needed to be trusted.

And so, he did. He got up, went to the pool, went to where the newness was to be found and embraced it. And because he did, his life was changed. He was freed from what had been, and began to live in the light.

Fr Andrew