Aloha Friday Message, March 24, 2017 – Fourth Friday of Lent

1712AFC032417 – See Here

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you!  There are quite a few music links here (for the purpose of REJOICING) so look for the (↔ Music Link) signs and use them.

John 9:5-7 [Jesus said,] 5 “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.

 

John9.6

Me ke aloha pumehana, ʻŌmea! Already we are past the half-way point this Season of Lent. Sunday is Laetare Sunday so named because of the introit (entrance antiphon) which in Latin begins with  “Laetare Jerusalem: et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam: gaudete cum laetitia, …” which means “Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy, …” For this special Sunday, the vestments and church appointments are rose-colored (“pink”) to remind us that we are looking forward now to Jesus’ continuing final journey from Capernaum, through the Samaritan town of Ginae, on through Jericho, Bethany, Bethphage, and then his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. That is of course followed by his Passion, Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection. For our St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish on Kauaʻi, it is also the Sunday for the Second Scrutiny when the Elect who are preparing for the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Eucharist – will testify with their godparents that they are ready to proceed on their final journey to these Blesséd Sacraments. On this Sunday, we hear the story of “the man born blind,”  or blind from birth. There are several such stories in the gospels. Here is a summary of sorts:

 

Passage Content Summary
Mark 8:22-26 A single blind man in Bethsaida [a] – Βηθσαϊδά (Béthsaida) { bayth-sahee-dah’} “House of Fish” – is brought by others. Jesus spits on his eyes, touches him once, and the man sees but indistinctly. Jesus then touches him a second time and looks at him intently and heals him.
Mark 10: 46-52 A single blind man called Bartimaeus cried out “Son of David, have mercy on me.” Jesus tells others to bring the man to him. Cloak is thrown aside. [b] Requested to see. Spoken word healed him.
Matthew 9:27-31 Two unnamed blind men – “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” “Do you believe I can do this?” Healed through spoken word without touch. Occurred at “the house”, probably in Capernaum
Matthew 12:22 A blind and mute man who is demon-possessed (“a demoniac”), probably in Capernaum just after leaving Jairus’ house, is brought to Jesus and he casts out the demon. The man can see and speak.
Matthew 20:29-34 Two unnamed blind men by the roadside as Jesus was leaving Jericho. “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes.
Matthew 21:14 14 The blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he cured them.
Luke 7:21 Possibly in Nain where he raised the widow’s only son: 21 Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind.
Luke 18:35-43 As Jesus is going toward Jericho, a blind man sitting by the road calls out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus asks, “What do you want me to do for you?” the man replies, “Lord, let me see again.” Jesus says, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.”
John 9:1-41

The Gospel for March 26, 2017

Second Scrutiny

Jesus seems to be in Jerusalem where saw an unnamed man, blind from birth. It may be that Jesus, who was a frequent visitor to Jerusalem, had seen him there previously and knew of his condition; the scripture does not describe how Jesus and his Disciples knew his condition was congenital. He makes clay with his saliva which he smears on the man’s eyes, and sends him to the Pool at Siloam. The man is able to see. He returns to his neighborhood and people wonder about how he can see. The Pharisees investigate, and the man testifies “32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.” Jesus upbraids them for their spiritual blindness.

 

[a] A small fishing village on the western shore of Lake Gennesaret, home of Andrew, Peter, Philip and John or a village in lower Gaulanitis on the eastern shore of Lake Gennesaret, not far from where the Jordan empties into it.
[b] There is a very important lesson here about evangelization. Follow the link to learn more about it.

Jesus uses this healing to make a point about the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees. In the Gospel of Matthew he chides them eight times for their obstinate and persistent duplicity. As we study these passages, we are also cautioned about being blind to the Love and the Power of God. Your surely remember this first verse from the hymn Amazing Grace: (NOT ↔ Music Link)

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound (↔ Music Link)
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

 

Blindness is a human condition that has been around since Old Testament days – at least! Not being able to see is a serious condition for almost any animal. We know there are some animals that do not have eyes; but, of those that have eyes, when the eyes do not function, there are other compensatory behaviors that develop. These include everything from increased sensitivity of other senses to physical assistance from a sighted person – a person who can see – or from a “seeing-eye” service animal. We find ways to adapt to the evident limitation caused by blindness. Rarely would one become intentionally blind – at least physically. We know that blinding a person was a form or tortuous punishment – thinking here of Samson – but one would not do that to one’s self.

However, spiritual blindness is abundant, and those who are spiritually blind often cling to their blindness with tenacious defiance. When we call attention to their refusal to “see the point,” we sometimes say something like “What! Are you blind? Can’t you see what you’re doing?” This kind of intentional spiritual blindness is usually associated with arrogance and self-righteousness; other words for that combination are hypocrisy, duplicity, insincerity. We describe people like that as being two-faced, liars, pretentious, and having double standards. That’s what Jesus chastised the  Pharisees about in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew 23:13-29. In this passage, Jesus refers to the Pharisees as “blind guides” and “blind fools.” Eight times he says “Woe to you …” Jesus is slamming them for their hypocrisy; the Pharisees are deeply angered, and the crowd is stunned by Jesus’ tone. The Disciples are trying to understand how Jesus – whom they now know to be the Messiah – can speak i such a disparaging way to the men considered the most-righteous among the Jews. Naturally, the Pharisees were pretty upset to be publically upbraided like that. And – as we earthlings with big-headed pride often do – they tried to argue their way out of the doghouse. Of course, that backfires, and they slink off scene smoldering with anger and hatred.

We find the idea of “making the blind to see” throughout Scripture, and it is usually expressed as a physical recovery of sight. Here are a couple of examples from the Old Testament.

Psalm 146:7b-87b The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.

Isaiah 42:1-9 I have given you as a covenant to the people; a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

In the Gospel of John we find a curious saying from Jesus” John 9:39-41 – 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment [c] so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.”

[c] Κρίμα (krima) { kree’-mah} This word signifies a judgment, a verdict; sometimes implying an adverse verdict, a condemnation. These verses describe for us a spiritually symbolic meaning of the restoration of sight; the Pharisees are not the innocent blind, willing to accept the testimony – guidance – of others. They are intentionally blind, preferring their own reason and wisdom about their careful observance of The Law to the plain truth of Jesus’ message of redemption through Christ’s Law of Love. Those who surrender to The Law of Love gain sight while those who cling to only The Law and The Prophets remain intentionally blind to the salvific grace of God’s redeeming love. The Pharisees are offended by The Truth from Jesus, but at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus has this to say about them in Matthew 11:4-6 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

When Jesus went to Nazareth at the beginning of his ministry, he read from the scroll of Isaiah, sat down, and then told everyone in the synagogue that “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” To compare what he read with what he said, check out these two links: Isaiah 61Luke 4:16-21 (Go ahead. It won’t take long, and you’ll be enriched by seeing how the passages fit together so well.) Jesus is, as we see in our topic-verse for today, the Light of the World.” (↔ Music Link) After he sent us his Spirit, the Holy Spirit, We are the Light of the World. (↔ Music Link)

Here’s something the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. See 2 Corinthians 4:2-4 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

This is precisely what Isaiah was talking about in Isaiah 29:9-11 9 Stupefy yourselves and be in a stupor,
blind yourselves and be blind!
Be drunk, but not from wine;
stagger, but not from strong drink!
10 For the Lord has poured out upon you
a spirit of deep sleep;
he has closed your eyes, you prophets,
and covered your heads, you seers.

11 The vision of all this has become for you like the words of a sealed document. If it is given to those who can read, with the command, “Read this,” they say, “We cannot, for it is sealed.” How is it sealed? It is sealed to those who are unworthy to open the seal. Who is unworthy? The unworthy are those who will not see the Goodness of God in his Mercy and Love.

Belovéd, are we blind to the Goodness of God in his Mercy and Love? Jesus resolutely set his face toward Jerusalem. You can follow that journey beginning at Luke 9:51-53 and continuing on through Luke 19:44. Pretty much 11 of the 24 chapters in Luke’s Gospel detail this journey. Jesus and his Disciples made that journey. Will you walk it with him, or must he walk it alone (↔ Music Link) – without you? Maybe we can catch a ride on that chariot (↔ Music Link)  God sends for the Saints! Or perhaps we can just open our eyes and see Jesus’ Glory beyond the agony of Good Friday. That will be our glory as well for “we shall see him as he is.” (See 1 John 3:2) In keeping with our running theme of repentance this Lent, perhaps we need to go and wash, and then come back able to see. If we can see here, we shall certainly be ready to see there.

Share-A-Prayer

  • AD – second surgery for breast cancer coming up. That will be followed by radiation and chemo. Four great kids and one amazing hubby. Help her out, please.
  • MS – Had a small stroke, maybe a TIA. Short time later, there came a much more serious stroke resulting in aphasia and left hemiparalysis. Not long after that, major heart attack. That’s a lot more than just a bad day in Slippery Rock (not where he lives, though), so help Marty out. He’s making progress!
  • RB – Bronchitis turned out to be Influenza B. Chest X-ray didn’t show pneumonia, but did not a nodule. Scheduled for surgery 4/29; cancelled because of new illness. Chiari and skeletal problems complicate all of this. Check out Psalm 86:6-7
  • BP and RP – Peaceful hospice for the whole family.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

 

LightOfTheWorld

 

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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