2005—Fourth Sunday of Lent—A
If you're a morning person, you know that watching a sunrise is much more than a visual experience. In addition to seeing that fiery star gradually rising over the distant hills, you also feel the warmth of the sun's rays, and you hear the sounds of the world waking up and gradually coming to life. Sunrise is a total sensory experience. As the sun rises higher into the sky, the world gradually emerges from its sleep and comes to life. Today, Jesus reveals himself as that rising sun, the Light of the World that brings us to life.
When the Light of the World shines on the Man Born Blind he gradually awakens to the fullness of life. In his fully awakened state he makes a clear and conscious choice to be faithful to Jesus. Of course this clear choice for Jesus gets him into some trouble with the people who aren't so excited about the new things that God is doing in the Man's life. The Pharisees try to convince him that his choice is misguided. They put him on trial, and when he refuses to deny his experience of God that doesn't quite fit the status quo, they expel him from the synagogue. Why? Because his revelatory experience, his clear choice for Jesus, threatens their comfort, their security, and their power. They are too stuck in their self-glorifying legalism and their deep insecurity to recognize the new things that God is doing in Jesus. The Man Born Blind, however, is free to be completely loyal to reality as he experiences it, even in the face of expulsion from his community. He is free to respond to the new things that God is doing and revealing. The Pharisees try to make him choose the security of the Law over the freedom of the Truth. They try to make him choose their authority over his unique revelatory experience. But the man refuses to deny his experience of God: "One thing I do know," he says, "is that I was blind and now I see." No one can take that experience of God's love away from him. He chooses to embrace it, and live it, no matter the cost.
This is, of course, the story of Jesus who is also put on trial and crucified by the same leaders whose primary concern for their political position makes them impervious to the Truth. The Man Born Blind is baptized into Christ at the pool of Siloam, and so it is no surprise that he should experience the same resistance encountered by Jesus. The Truth is always resisted by those who cling to power and co-opt God's law to serve their personal interests and insecurities. The Truth is always a threat to those who live for their own glory rather than God's glory. We who are baptized into Christ and brought to life by his Light will face the same trial if we are faithful to making a clear choice for Jesus and the new things God is doing in our lives. There are many who will be threatened by what we know to be true, by what brings us to life, by the experience of God we simply cannot deny, no matter the cost. We might be thrown out, rejected, or even killed, but we are never left alone by God. Sure as the sun will rise, Jesus will stand by us in our fidelity to the new things God is revealing in our lives.
As we journey closer to Easter and the renewal of our baptismal promises, let us awaken from our sleep and greet the rising sun who is the Light of the World. This is definitely no time to hit the snooze button. This is no time to sit on the fence of cowardly indecision. We are called to make a clear choice for Christ and to become, like him, the Light of the World.