An Undeniable Gift
Mar 17, 2020
Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A
An Undeniable Gift
I recall once after an Easter Mass at the Cathedral talking with a young woman who was just baptized. I did not know her, but she was beaming with joy and wanted to share it. She explained how God had given her this great day. Let’s hope that day can still come with the concerns around the virus. Around the world at Easter, numerous adults receive baptism; in quite a few countries, there are many thousands. If you ask the adult baptismal candidates about their personal journey to faith, then you will repeatedly hear stories that are not unlike today’s Gospel. Their journey to faith and to baptism is like that of the man born blind to whom Jesus gave the eyesight he had lacked from birth. They experience the transition to faith as a journey to light. In early Christian times, baptism was described as “enlightenment”. And that is why today’s Gospel was then and is still read as a step in the preparation for baptism.
There is great drama in the event. People begin to ask: What happened, and how did it happen? Who, then is this man Jesus who healed you? And again and again, the man who was healed tells what Jesus did and how he has received his sight. And in the process he learns that the more often he talks about it, the more clearly he sees for himself who has healed him and what has been given to him. More and more the healed man becomes a believer and an evangelist.
An important element on this journey is of course the resistance he encounters. The Pharisees do not want to believe him. They swear at him and finally throw him out. But the man who was healed cannot and will not deny what was given to him. He grows because of this hostile rejection. He becomes clearer in his conviction that Jesus is a prophet and even more, the Son of God.
To the degree that I pass on the story of my journey in the faith, my faith becomes firmer, and wherever it proves itself, even against contradiction and resistance, it becomes deeper and more alive and finally leads, as in today’s Gospel, to a full encounter with Jesus Christ.