Lent 4th Sunday A - The Blind Man

From Fr. Jude Botelho:

Dear Friend,

When we accidentally bump into something or someone, some people ask: “Are you blind? Can’t you see?” We get angry at these remarks because we believe we can see very well. Yet there are times we have to admit we are blind, that we don’t see as well as we should, that we don’t see the obvious, that we can’t see beyond the physical. May His Word open our eyes! Have an insightful Lenten weekend! 

Fourth Sunday of Lent “Live as children of the Light! Lord I believe!”

In the first reading from the Book of Samuel we have the story of Samuel journeying to the house of Jesse for choosing the successor of King Saul. Samuel thought that the chosen one was Eliab, because he was the eldest, the tallest and the most handsome of all the sons of Jesse. But the Lord rejected

Eliab and all the seven sons presented as worthy candidates to him. “God does not see as man sees; man looks at appearances but God looks at the heart.” Finally, the youngest son David arrives, he is not handsome and lacks experience but he has a good heart. David is anointed King because God goes beyond appearances and sees David as the shepherd King of his people. 

Early in his career, young Clarence Darrow was defending a client against an older, more experienced attorney, who sarcastically dismissed Darrow as “that beardless youth”. Darrow rebutted, “My worthy adversary seems to downgrade me for not having a beard. Let me reply with a story: The King of Spain once dispatched a youthful nobleman to the court of a neighbouring monarch, who sneered, “Does the King of Spain lack men that he sends me a beardless boy? To which the young ambassador replied, “Sire, if my King had supposed that you equated wisdom with a beard, he would have sent a goat.” Clarence Darrow won the case.

Bennet Cerf
The Gospel gives the account of the cure of the blind man on the Sabbath and how, as he progressively sees more and more, the Pharisees who believe they have spiritual insight, see less and less. It starts with the disciples of Jesus, who sees the blind man as a subject of an interesting debate on the cause of blindness. Jesus spat on the ground, made a paste, rubbed it into his eyes and asked him to wash into the pool of Siloam. Incidentally, receiving sight does not come easy. It is a slow process. The focus shifts from the blind man who can now see, to the Pharisees who refuse to see the truth. They question the blind man, they question whether it is proper to heal on the Sabbath, they question whether Jesus is acting with the power of God or the power of evil. The more they try to distort the truth the more the man is adamant in witnessing to Jesus. “How could a sinner produce signs like these?” Not only is his physical sight restored but he grows in faith in Jesus. Initially, he merely states, ‘the man called Jesus did this for me. Next he says, “He is a prophet”. Later he proclaims, “This man is from God”. And when Jesus reveals that he is the Son of man, he finally professes his faith: “Lord, I believe.” In contrast the Pharisees progressively deny the truth and refuse 

to be open, no matter what the evidence. Jesus said: “I have come into the world so that those without sight may see and those with sight turn blind.” We have to judge which is worse, being blind or pretending to see when in fact we are blind. 

Spiritual Blindness
A sixty-year-old woman living in a mid-western town was finally prevailed upon by her family to see the eye doctor. She had never worn glasses in her life. The doctor gave her a thorough test and asked her to return in three days when he would have her glasses ready. He fitted the glasses and asked her to look out of the window. Almost breathless, she exclaimed, “Why, I can see the steeple of our church, and it is three blocks away.” “You mean you have never been able to see that steeple at that short a distance?” asked the doctor. “Gracious no”, she declared, “I never knew I was supposed to see that far.” “Madam”, said the eye expert, “You’ve been going around for years half blind!” Similarly, many cannot see the truth which God has made known to us….
Msgr. Arthur Tonne 

Getting back your sight!

“During World War II, John Howard was blinded in an aero plane explosion and could not see a thing for the next twelve years. But one day as he was walking down a street near his parents’ home in Texas, he suddenly began to see ‘red sand’ in front of his eyes. Without warning his sight had returned again. According to an eye specialist, a blocking of blood to the optic nerve caused by the explosion had opened. Commenting on his experience John said, “You don’t know what it is like for a father to see his children for the first time”. But according to the Gospel something more spectacular happened to the man born blind, for Christ conferred on him, not only his physical sight but also spiritual insight; he opened his eyes of faith, so that the man believed in Jesus as one believes in the sun.”
Vima Dasan 

True Vision

One night a few years ago there was a total eclipse of the moon. Everybody was talking about it. Many stayed up till the small hours in the hope of witnessing it. I ask myself: “Why all this interest in the moon, simply because it is disappearing?” I was convinced that most of those people wouldn’t

see a full moon in the sky, much less stop to admire it. It brought to mind the words of Emerson: “The fool wonders at the unusual; the wise person wonders at the usual.”
Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’ 

The Allegory of the Cave

The story of the blind man in today’s gospel reminds us of Plato’s ‘Allegory of the Cave’ It is an allegory used to illustrate “our want of education.” There we find all humanity chained in a darkened cave throughout life. These captives can see nothing but flickering images on a wall…shadows, appearances, illusions, which they take for reality. One prisoner, liberated from the chains, makes the arduous crawl upwards to the world of the shining sun. When he returns to the cave with his tales of the new-found source of light and life and warmth it gives, the prisoners think him crazy. They simply deny his experience. It just can’t be. The chains and the amusing images on the wall are reality. Thus his conversion is ridiculed; his invitation is resisted. Clearly there are parallels between the Platonic myth of the cave and the story of the man born blind. Each figure is given new sight. Each is rejected by the inhabitants of the old world. And even the so-called wise authorities would rather cling to their chains and discuss the shadows than embark on the journey of faith.

John Pichappilly in ‘The Table of the Word’

 The captain of the Titanic refused to believe the ship was in trouble till water was ankle deep in the mail room. Only then was it apparent the multi-layered hull had been pierced and the unsinkable ship was going to sink. Ships that could have arrived before the great ocean liner went down weren't summoned until it was too late. 

Leadership, Vol. X, No.3, Summer, 1989, p. 27. 


A man had just sat down at his desk to begin the working day when one of his associates came storming into his office. "You won't believe this," he said. "I was just almost killed outside. I had just walked out of the deli where I buy my egg sandwich every morning. Suddenly a police car came down the street with its lights flashing and sirens blaring. The police were chasing another car. The other car stopped right in front of me. The guys jumped out and began shooting at the police. I hit the ground and could hear bullets buzzing over my head. I'm telling you, I'm lucky to be alive." After a moment of silence the first man said: "You eat an egg sandwich every morning?"
The point of the story, and believe it or not there is one, is that we can become so involved in our own narrow interests that we miss the obvious. This Sunday’s Gospel illustrates the destructiveness of such narrowness. Jesus had just healed a blind man, "to let God's work shine forth." But by doing this he threatened the comfortable ordered life of the Jewish leaders. (Fr. Joseph Pellegrino)

Recently, I ran across a "fascinating list" that carried this intriguing title: "Great Truths About Life That Little Children Have Learned." Let me share a few of these "great truths" with you.

1. " No matter how hard you try you cannot baptize a cat."

2. "When your mom is mad at your dad, don't let her brush your hair."
3. "Never ask your 3-year-old brother to hold a tomato... or an egg."
4. "You can't trust dogs to watch your food for you."
5. "Don't sneeze when somebody is cutting your hair."
6. "School lunches stick to the wall."
7. "You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk."
8. "Never wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts... no matter how cute the underwear is."

Now, it is virtually certain that the children learned these "great truths" and came to these bold new insights after some dramatic eye-opening experience in their own personal lives. Can't you just see in your mind's eye...some children trying to baptize a cat...and learning full well from that experience that this is just not a good thing to do. The point is clear: A dramatic personal eye-opening experience can give us new insight, new perception, new vision.

On a much deeper level and on a much more positive level, that's precisely what we discover in this amazing story in John 9. A man blind from birth has a dramatic eye-opening experience with Jesus... and talk about new vision, talk about new insight... he is completely and totally healed. He is made whole and he comes back from the pool of Siloam with 20/20 vision,... able to see perfectly for the first time in his life. His transformation is so complete and so dramatic that he even looks a little different. The townspeople see him and say: "Hey, isn't that the blind beggar? He can see now. Is that him? No, it's just someone who looks like him. Couldn't be him," And the formerly blind man says: "It's me alright. I am the man."

Remember the story with me...

Kids know mud is good. Whether squished between the toes, splashed up from a big puddle, or patted into inedible but indelible "pies," mud attracts little children as quickly as cupcakes and puppies.

 For all of us, after the frozen frostiness of this past Winter, who isn't looking forward to the Spring softening of hard, unyielding ground. There is something elemental, even primeval about mud. We instinctively recognize that moist, mushy earth is a sign of fruitfulness, fulfillment, and fun.

 But if you don't have melting snow or spring rains to make solid ground into malleable mud, then you have to get water from some other source. In this week's gospel text, John's detailed re-telling of Jesus healing of a man who had been "born blind," that water source comes from saliva.

 Jesus spits on the ground and "made mud with the salvia," an action that would delight all children, but was an absolute symbol of uncleanness and pollution to the reigning religious authorities. Blood, sweat, spit, all those "icky" human fluids were considered not just to be unattractive. They were deemed absolutely abhorrent and ritually unclean. Spittle was considered to be a pollutant, and even today, to spit upon someone is the ultimate sign of contempt.

But when Jesus encountered the man who was "born blind," an individual who had been "blind from birth," someone who had never received the gift of sight, he responds by spitting. We cannot know for sure whether this man had nothing in his eye sockets, just a cavernous hole, or whether his eyes were born deformed and defective. The fact that Jesus' action recreated the first act of creation, where God creates materiality out of mud, suggests the former, but it is only speculation.

What isn't speculation is that "in the beginning" God created the cosmos and the earth. Upon the earth the first priority was water in order for life to emerge. It was only after a stream of water rose up from the within the ground and watered "the whole face of the earth" (Genesis 2:6) that God gathered together the moistened dirt and "formed Adam" from the clay. The first "mud pie," made from the creative touch of the divine on clay, that simple combination of dirt and water, resulted in nothing less than the first human being.

Jesus' action has been variously and diversely interpreted... 

Christ-like Sight 

Anybody here have selective hearing or seeing? Sure, we all do. Every second, our brain is bombarded with sensory data from all five senses. You just sat down, but already your brain has probably stopped consciously focusing on the feel of the seat. You're probably not thinking about the temperature of the room, although you probably did at one point this morning. There are all kinds of sounds that you're not focusing on right now - the faint hum of lights, somebody shifting beside you. Our brains would go crazy if they had to process every piece of data that our bodies sensed.

We think we're seeing everything, but we're all being selective all the time. Today, you've probably noticed who's not here, who's sitting in a different spot, who's sitting with whom. You may have wondered what it means that so-and-so is sitting with that person. Years ago, before I dated my wife, I brought a date to a function that my wife also attended. She could tell you exactly what my date was wearing. I don't have a clue. I never did, not even that night. It's the same with cars. You get interested in a car, and all of a sudden you notice them everywhere. They were there before, but you never noticed them.

The part of the brain that filters all this information is called the Reticular Activating System. It's continually at work, even though we never think about it. Today's story is about our spiritual Reticular Activating System. The goal for all of us, if we're followers of Jesus Christ, is to see the same things that he sees. We want to notice what's important to him.

Darryl Dash, Spiritual Eyesight
Distract the Christians!

All too often we miss what God is doing because we are either too busy doing something else or we have a better idea of what God would do. Someone sent me the following in an email this week:

Satan called a worldwide convention. In his opening address to his evil angels, he said,

"We can't keep the Christians from going to church. We can't keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can't even keep them from forming an intimate, abiding relationship experience in Christ. If they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to church, let them have their conservative lifestyles, but steal their time, so they can't gain that experience in Jesus Christ. This is what I want you to do, angels. Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!"

"How shall we do this?" shouted his angels. "Keep them busy in the nonessentials of life and invent innumerable schemes to occupy their minds, "he answered. "Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade them to work for long hours, to work 6 - 7 days a week, 10 - 12 hours a day, so they can afford their lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. As their family fragments, soon, their home will offer no escape from the pressures of work."

"Over stimulate their minds so that they cannot hear that still small voice. Entice them to play the radio or cassette player whenever they drive. To keep the TV, iPads, CDs and their computers going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds and break that union with Christ."

"Fill the coffee table with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards.

Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, mail order catalogues, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services, and false hopes."

"Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted, disquieted, and unprepared for the coming week.

Don't let them go out in nature to reflect on God's wonders. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, concerts and movies instead."

And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, involve them in gossip and small talk so that they leave with troubled consciences and unsettled emotion."

"Let them be involved in soul-winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause."

It was quite a convention in the end. And the evil angels went eagerly to their assignments causing Christians everywhere to get busy, busy, busy and rush here and there.

Has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the JUDGE.

Ray Osborne, Here's Mud in Your Eye!
I Once Was Blind

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now I'm found;
Was blind, but now I see.

This plaintive spiritual song is a favorite among the elderly and nursing home residents at chapel time, those for whom physical eyesight is waning and for whom spiritual sight is increasingly significant.

Actually it was written by John Newton, who was part of the revival of the Church of England in the late eighteenth century. He was a self-educated man, who had gone to sea and at one time had been the captain of a ship in the African slave trade. After his conversion, he became an ordained minister of the Church of England, finally serving as rector of a church in London. It could well be that this personal testimony referred to his time of blindness to the awful exploitation and forced transport of the wretched slaves. He was indeed a spiritual wretch, just as the slaves were physical wretches in the stinking hold of his ship. Through an amazing grace his eyes were opened and he could see clearly God's will for his life, and it was not to haul slaves.

David Belgum, A Clearer Vision, "Seeing the Unseeing," CSS Publishing Company.
Another Perspective

There is a story of a beggar who was sitting across the street from an artist's studio. The artist saw him and thought he would make an interesting portrait study so from a distance he painted the defeated man whose shoulders drooped, and whose eyes were downcast and sad. When he was finished, he took the portrait over to the beggar so he could look at it.

"Who is that?" the beggar questioned. The painting bore a slight resemblance to himself, but in the painting before him he saw a person of dignity, with squared shoulders and bright uplifted eyes, almost handsome! He asked the artist, "Is that me? I don't look like that." But the artist replied, "but that is the person I see in you."

Brett Blair, Adapted from New Vision in Christ, by Rev. Michael J. Fish
What God Sees

In the midst of our Lenten journey, God doesn't see us as everyone else sees us. People around us may see us as cool, successful, unattractive, popular, old, whatever. It doesn't matter at all how others may see us. God sees our hearts, sees us as we really are. Perhaps we wish we had him fooled, like those we've led to believe that we're less frightened, more confident, happier than we really are. Or perhaps we're deeply grateful that God sees through all the shallow, negative judgments which so many people have placed on us. Probably it's both.

Our Lord, to our joy and to our sorrow, looks into our hearts and sees us as we really are. In Lent, that's a call for introspection: to confess that we have not loved our Lord with our whole hearts, nor loved our neighbors as ourselves.

In Lent, it's especially important that we confess our sinfulness as specifically as we're able. In what ways have we failed God and ourselves? Because we can't hide from God, we dare not use all our usual ways to avoid our sinfulness. We're used to denying our sins, minimizing them, excusing them, blaming them on others. This Lent, let's examine ourselves, asking God to search our hearts. We benefit from naming our sins, our needs, and losses, and failings. And we admit to God that only by his grace and guidance can we find healing and help.

G. Edward Whetstone, Caught in the Acts, CSS Publishing
How Do You Know It's A Bad Thing?

There is an ancient Chinese legend of an old man and his only son. One night the old man's horse escaped, and the neighbors came to comfort him in his loss. "How do you know this is a bad thing?" he asked them.

Several days later his horse returned with a herd of wild horses. Now his friends came to congratulate the farmer for his good fortune. But the old man said, "How do you know this is a good thing?"

While his son was trying taming one of the wild horses, he is thrown and breaks his leg. Again his friends gathered to bemoan his new misfortune. But the old man asked, "How do you know this is a bad thing?"

Soon a warlord came to recruit able-bodied youth for his army, and the farmer's son escaped conscription because of his broken leg. In true fashion, the farmer's neighbors came and expressed their pleasure over the man's good luck. "How do you know it's a good thing?" he asked. The story can go on forever. Good fortune can quickly turn on you and bad fortune may be a blessing in disguise.

Brett Blair,
What a Happy Soul

The prolific Christian hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, lost her sight as a young child. But it is obvious through her hymns that she was a person who could see wonderfully with the spiritual eyes of her heart. We see a touch of her insight in the following poem:

"Oh, what a happy soul am I! Although I cannot see,
I am resolved that in this world, content I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don't,
To weep and sigh because I'm blind, I cannot and I won't."

The Creation of Braille

It was 1818 in France, and Louis, a boy of 9, was sitting in his father's workshop. The father was a harness-maker and the boy loved to watch his father work the leather. "Someday Father," said Louis, "I want to be a harness-maker, just like you." "Why not start now?" said the father. He took a piece of leather and drew a design on it. "Now, my son," he said, "take the hole-puncher and a hammer and follow this design, but be careful that you don't hit your hand." Excited, the boy began to work, but when he hit the hole-puncher, it flew out of his hand and pierced his eye! He lost the sight of that eye immediately. Later, sight in the other eye failed. Louis was now totally blind.

A few years later, Louis was sitting in the family garden when a friend handed him a pinecone. As he ran his sensitive fingers over the cone, an idea came to him. He became enthusiastic and began to create an alphabet of raised dots on paper so that the blind could feel and interpret what was written. Thus, Louis Braille opened up a whole new world for the blind--all because of an accident.
From Fr. Tony Kadavil:


Lead kindly Light”: Video

 ( John Henry Cardinal Newman was a professor at Oxford University. When he was an Anglican priest, along with the other scholars, he started the Oxford movement. When he was thirty-two years old, his health was bad, and he took a break from his writings and went to Europe to recuperate. But unfortunately, he contacted a deadly fever. He wanted to return to England, but no transportation was available. As he waited, his life became lonely and tedious; he was experiencing great physical and emotional despair. It is then that he penned a beautiful hymn asking God for light: “Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, Lead Thou me on; The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on: Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see The distant scene-one step enough for me.” In his confusion and distress, Newman prayed to the God of Light to lead him from darkness to light, from confusion to certainty, and from sickness to health. God heard his prayer and led him home safely. In 1845, he was converted to the Roman Catholic faith. [John Rose in John’s Sunday Homilies; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] 

3: Blinded by prejudice: In the late 1700s, the manager of a large hotel in Baltimore refused lodging to a man dressed like a farmer. He turned the farmer away because he thought this fellow’s shabby appearance would discredit the reputation of his distinguished hotel. The farmer picked up his bag and left without saying a further word to anyone. Later that evening, the innkeeper discovered that he had turned away none other than the Vice-President of the United States – Thomas Jefferson! Immediately, the manager sent a note of apology to the famed patriot, asking him to come back and be his guest in the hotel. Jefferson replied by instructing the messenger as follows, “Tell him I have already reserved a room. I value his good intentions highly, but if he has no room for a common American farmer, then he has no room for the Vice-President of the United States of America.” [Brian Cavanaugh in The Sower’s Seeds; quoted by Fr. Botelho.] (Fr. Tony) (  

4: The blind farmer was often taken for a walk in the fields by a kind neighbor.  However kindly the neighbor might have been, he was undoubtedly a coward.  When a bull charged towards them one day, he abandoned the blind man.  The bull, puzzled by a lack of fear, nudged the blind farmer in the back.  He turned very quickly, caught the bull by the horns and threw it to the ground with a bump that left it breathless.  “Aidan,” shouted the neighbor, “I never knew you were so strong.”  “It’s the strength of Faith,” said the blind man. “If I could have got that fella off the handlebars of his bicycle, I’d have thrashed him properly.” (He was under the impression that a bicycle had hit him).

5: A blind man is walking down the street with his guide dog one day.  They come to a busy intersection and the dog, ignoring the high volume of traffic zooming by on the street, leads the blind man right out into the thick of the traffic.  This is followed by the screech of tires as panicked drivers try desperately not to run the pair down.  Horns blaring around them, the blind man and the dog finally reach the safety of the sidewalk on the other side of the street, and the blind man pulls a cookie out of his coat pocket, which he offers to the dog. A passerby, having observed the near fatal incident, can’t control his amazement and says to the blind man, “Why on earth are you rewarding your dog with a cookie?  He nearly got you killed!” The blind man turns partially in his direction and replies, “To find out where his head is, so I can kick his rear end!”
6: My face in the mirror
Isn’t wrinkled or drawn.
My house isn’t dirty.
The cobwebs are gone.
My garden looks lovely,
And so does my lawn.
I think I might never
Put my glasses back on.

27- Additional anecdotes

1) “Amazing Grace” is the story of the healing of one person’s personal as well as cultural blindness. John Newton was born in 1740 in England. He grew up in the Anglican Church. As a little boy he went to Church and learned Bible lessons.   His mother died when he was only eleven, and so he traveled with his father who was the captain and owner of a cargo ship.  The “cargo” was two to three hundred black slaves packed, lying next to each other, in the ship’s hold.  In a storm, little John Newton was washed overboard and was picked up on the open seas by a slave trader who trained John in his trade as he grew up.  Before his conversion, Newton’s life had become so debauched, irreverent, and immoral that even his fellow sailors were shocked by his conduct and coarse speech. On one return voyage to England, Newton was caught in such a fierce storm that all aboard despaired of life.  The Scriptures John had once learned at his mother’s knee returned to his mind, and he began to hope that Jesus could deliver him, dreadful sinner though he was.  For the first time in years, John sought the Lord in prayer, and as he later wrote, “the Lord sent from on high and delivered me out of deep waters.” It was on March 21, a date he remembered yearly for the rest of his life, that Newton began to realize the enormity of the evil in his life and his complicity with the evil of slavery in his slave-trading.  He left the ship, joined the seminary, was ordained and became a zealous pastor. Thanking God for the grace of conversion, he composed a song which is now one of Americans’ favorite hymns: “Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”  Jesus always comes to heal people who are spiritually blind if they ask for help.  Newton, like his culture, had a huge personal blind-spot — tolerance for slave-trading.  And Jesus healed John Newton’s spiritual blindness. (Fr. Tony) (   

2) Anne Mansfield Sullivan and Helen Keller: Anne Mansfield Sullivan was a “miracle worker” who overcame obstacles in seeking to assist others. Partially blind from birth, she managed to overcome this handicap and graduated from the prestigious Perkins School for the Blind in Boston. The miracle of Anne Sullivan’s life, however, had very little to do with her own handicap, but it had everything to do with the multiple handicaps of a young girl. The miracle began to be manifest on March 2, 1887, when twenty-year-old Anne Mansfield Sullivan met six-year-old Helen Keller. Helen was born in 1880, a healthy and strong child. At nineteen months of age, however, she contracted a disease, which left her blind, deaf, and ultimately mute; Helen Keller lived in a world of total darkness and silence. When Helen was six, her mother sent Helen with her father, to seek out Dr. J. Julian Chisolm, an eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist in Baltimore, for advice. He subsequently put them in touch with Alexander Graham Bell who was working with deaf children at the time. Bell knew Anne Sullivan and arranged for the first meeting between student and teacher. Anne Sullivan’s task was monumental. The first thing that was necessary was for Anne to gain Helen’s confidence, which was accomplished with relative ease. The next step, however, would be much more difficult. Anne needed to teach Helen that her condition afforded her the opportunity to see, hear, and speak in new and different ways, to communicate on another level. Helen Keller could not see images and she could not read the words on the printed page, but she could feel and, thus, learned to read through the use of Braille. Helen could not hear or speak, but she did learn to finger-spell and sign in order to communicate with others. Helen Keller learned her lessons well. In fact, she learned so well that in 1904 she graduated cum laude from Radcliff College, one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education for women. She went on to become a successful author and an internationally known celebrity who aided the cause of handicapped people throughout the world. It was the life of Anne Mansfield Sullivan, however, which in many ways was the true miracle. She opened the mind of Helen Keller to a world of possibilities. Maybe it is odd to say, but it seems that normal sight, hearing, and speech might have been impediments to Helen Keller, for without them she reached her full potential and greatness. Anne Sullivan was a woman who brought the light to a child shrouded in darkness, silence, and fear. She was not able to cure any of the many physical maladies that plagued Helen Keller, but she brought Helen what may have been more important – that is the light and hope of Faith. Jesus, as we hear in today’s famous passage from John’s Gospel, physically healed the man born blind, but Jesus gave him much more; Jesus secured for him the vision of Faith. We, in a similar way, are called to seek the light, cast out the blindness that exists in our lives and do what we can to assist others to do the same. (Fr. Tony) (   

3) “This much I know of Christ.” The book God’s Annoying Love for Imperfect People by Michael Yaconeli tells the story of a man recently converted to Jesus and how an unbelieving friend sought to “see” why. “So, you have been converted to Christ?” “Yes.” “Then you must know a great deal about Him. Tell me, what country was he born in?” “I don’t know.” “What was his age when he died?” “I don’t know.” “How many sermons did he preach?” “I don’t know.” “You certainly know very little for a man who claims to be converted to Christ.” “You are right. I am ashamed at how little I know about him. But this much I know: Three years ago, I was a drunkard. I was in debt. My family was falling to pieces; they dreaded the sight of me. But now I have given up drink. We are out of debt. Ours is a happy home. My children eagerly await my return home each evening. All this Christ has done for me. This much I know of Christ.” Does it not sound like the answers given by the blind man healed by Jesus? (Fr. Tony) (   

4) What kind of God do some people have? Kathryn Lindskoog has suffered for two decades with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease that gradually weakens and paralyzes the body. She has been amazed at some of the advice she has received from friends and relatives. A few typical examples: “You must really like to be sick; you bring so much of it on yourself.” That comment was from a nearby relative who never so much as sent a get-well card. “The reason I have perfect health is that I think right; nobody gets sick unless he thinks wrong.” That from another relative. “I know just how you feel about being crippled; I had a bad case of tennis elbow last month.” “Your present improvement is just wishful thinking.” How’s that for encouragement? “I know you fake your limp to try to get attention.” That comment was from her pastor. He was entirely serious. And this last one: “God must cherish you to trust you with this burden.” [Kathryn Lindskoog, “What do You Say to Job?” Leadership (Spring 1985), 93-94. Quoted in Ron Lee Davis, Healing Life’s Hurts (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1986).] That hurts. What kind of God do some people have? 
(Fr. Tony) (   

5) “I believe he overdid it this time.” A country preacher was visiting his parishioners after a local flood. He called on a farmer whose crop had washed away and whose cows had all drowned. “Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth,” quoted the preacher, trying to offer some comfort. The farmer looked at him and said dryly, “Well, I believe He overdid it this time.” The farmer was right. What kind of God do some people have? Many people were startled to hear TV evangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell blame the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on God’s unhappiness with gays, feminists and People for the American Way. Did these two influential clergymen really mean that God killed thousands of innocent people because God was unhappy with the lifestyles of other people in our land? Is God the ultimate terrorist? What kind of God do some people have? Jesus and his disciples passed a man blind from birth. “Who sinned,” asked Jesus’ disciples, “this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” What kind of God did these disciples have? (Fr. Tony) (  
6) “Who sinned,” the disciples asked Jesus, “that this man was born sightless?” Back in 1991, there was an article in The New York Times Magazine concerning a group of more than 100 women who reside in Long Beach, California. These women, Cambodian refugees who witnessed the horror of the Pol Pot Regime, are certifiably blind, yet doctors say their eyes function perfectly well. These sightless women suffer from psychosomatic or hysterical blindness. They are really blind, but their blindness stems from their minds; though they have eyes, they are unable to see. The women from Cambodia are sightless because their minds have subconsciously closed out horrific images they did not want to see. Those having blind sight also have healthy eyes, but because of damage to other parts of their neurological system they are not aware of the images their eyes are transmitting. Our lesson from John’s Gospel is about a beggar who was born blind. As far as we know, people in Bible times knew nothing about psychosomatic illness, nor did they know about neurological damage. Their explanation for any form of suffering was that someone must have sinned. “Who sinned,” the disciples asked Jesus, “that this man was born sightless?” (Fr. Tony) (   

7) “Did you ever have a taste of Jesus?” Bob Allred tells the story about a country preacher who was listening to a seminary professor cast doubt on the core issues of the Faith. When the professor finished his lecture, the elderly pastor got up, took an apple from his lunch bag and started eating it as he said, “Mr. Professor, I haven’t read many of them books you quoted.” Then he took another bite of the apple. “Mr. Professor, I don’t know much about the great thinkers you mentioned,” as he took still another bite of his apple. “Mr. Professor, I admit I haven’t studied the Bible like you have,” as he finished his apple and dropped it back in the bag. “I was just wondering, this apple that I just ate, was it sour or sweet? The Professor responded, “How could I know? I haven’t tasted your apple.” To which the old preacher replied, “With all due respect, sir, I was just wondering if you had ever had a taste of my Jesus?” The blind man says, “Whether or not the cure was approved by the FDA, I once was blind, but now I see.” You all argue and explain all you want, but that’s enough for me.
 (Fr. Tony) (   

8) Obstacles and triumphs: History is replete with stories of people who triumphed over seemingly insurmountable disadvantages and challenges. Homer was blind, as was John Milton, but both men achieved unparalleled status as poets. Beethoven was deaf when he composed his Ninth Symphony, so deaf that when his work was first performed, he could not hear a note of the magnificent ode, “Joy, thou heavenly spark of Godhead,” with which the symphony concludes. Thomas Edison, who lost his hearing at the age of eight went on to invent over 100 useful devices, including the phonograph and moving pictures. Alexander the Great and Alexander Pope suffered skeletal deformities as did Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Epictetus and Franklin Roosevelt. Francis Mouthelon, a man with no hands was awarded first prize by the French society of artists for the most excellent painting of 1875. Helen Keller, one of the world’s most renowned women, was blind, deaf and mute from early childhood, yet she became a teacher, author and educator. Anne Sullivan, Keller’s teacher and companion for 49 years was half-blind at birth, orphaned, and institutionalized as a young girl. Nevertheless, she devoted her life to the care of the blind. When Sullivan became totally blind as an adult, Keller took on the role of teacher, helping her devoted friend to overcome her inability to see. George Frederick Handel, the great musician suffered several setbacks. He lost his health and his right side was paralyzed. When he lost his money, his creditors threatened to imprison him. In the throes of his darkest days, Handel composed his finest work, The Hallelujah Chorus, which is part of his Messiah, citing his Faith in God as the only thing that sustained him. Triumphs like these bolster the human spirit with the knowledge that handicaps, and hardships need not be incapacitating; indeed, such experiences can prove to be the impetus for achieving greatness. The Lenten season challenges us to reflect on those obstacles, which tend to stunt our spiritual development. Let us remember that, like the people mentioned above and like the blind man in today’s Gospel, we are also capable of overcoming whatever stands between us and the wholeness to which God calls us. (Sanchez archives). 

 9) As a small child, he lost his sight: Tony Campolo, in his book Carpe Diem [(Dallas: Word Publishing, 1994), p. 17.], tells a story from the life of a man whom many consider to be one of the truly creative minds of the twentieth century. He is known as a philosopher, thinker, visionary, inventor, architect, engineer, mathematician, poet, cosmologist, and more. R. Buckminster Fuller was born in Milton, Massachusetts on July 12, 1895. Throughout the course of his life Fuller held 28 patents, authored 28 books and received 47 honorary degrees. And while his most well-known artifact, the geodesic dome, has been produced over 300,000 times worldwide, Fuller’s true impact on the world today can be found in his continued influence upon generations of designers, architects, scientists and artists working to create a more sustainable planet. So numerous are his achievements that a list of his inventions would fill a good-sized book. Fuller explained that the source of his creativity was a painful misfortune that occurred during his childhood. He described how, as a small child, he lost his sight. He went to bed one night able to see and awoke the next morning, blind. Medical experts were not able to explain the cause of his horrific and sudden blindness. There was no reason for it. It just happened. For several years young Fuller remained blind. Then, just as suddenly and as inexplicably as he had lost his sight, he regained it. Without any indication as to what was coming, one morning he woke up able to see again. In retrospect, Fuller explained, that tragic time proved to be a blessing in disguise. Upon regaining his sight, he found the world miraculously new and strangely wonderful to him. Along with his renewed vision, he put to use the creative imagination developed during his years of blindness. He claimed his excitement for life was intensified beyond anything that would have been possible had he always been able to see. Don’t you imagine that this man Jesus healed had that same excitement about life? (Fr. Tony) (   

10) “Why has this happened to me? The Hoover Dam, built in 1935 on the Colorado River, is an engineering wonder. Hoover is what is called an arch-gravity dam. It is so designed that greater the pressure applied to the dam the more it is wedged into the solid rock. The greater the forces against the dam, the stronger it becomes. So, let it be with us. When heartaches come, as they will, let us not cry out, “Why has this happened to me? Why has this happened to someone I love? What have I done to deserve this?” Rather, let’s surrender our need to a healing God. Let’s allow our hurt to wedge us ever more surely into the solid Rock.

11) “Now I see.” During the Depression of the 1930s, a boat captain managed to make a modest living by piloting his boat up and down the Mississippi River.  His boat was old and needed repair.  The engines were grimy, emitting soot and smoke.  The captain was untidy and rude.  It so happened that on one of his trips, he met a traveling missionary, who introduced him to Christ and the Gospel.  The captain’s conversion was profound and authentic. One of the first things he did was to clean up his boat and repair its engines.  The deck and deck chairs were freshly painted, and all the brass fixtures were polished. His personal appearance and demeanor were transformed. Clean-shaven and with a smile he greeted his customers who remarked about the change in the man. In reply, the captain said, “I was spiritually blind, but now I see people and events as they really are.  I have gotten a new glory and it shines out in all I do.  That is what Christ does for a person; he gives him clear vision and a glory.” (Fr. Tony) (   

12) Blind to the need for a change of heart. There is a Sufi story about a Muslim on a horse who was determined to kill the enemy he was pursuing.  In the middle of the chase the call to prayer rang out from a mosque.  Instantly, the Muslim got off his horse, unrolled his prayer mat and prayed the set prayers as fast as he could, then got back on his horse and continued the chase.  He had fulfilled the requirements of the law but was blind to what the law really required:  namely, a change of heart.

13) “You are more beautiful than I ever imagined!” When William Montague Dyke was ten years old, he was blinded in an accident. Despite his disability, William graduated from a university in England with high honors. While he was in school, he fell in love with the daughter of a high-ranking British naval officer, and they became engaged. Not long before the wedding, William had eye surgery in the hope that the operation would restore his sight. If it failed, he would remain blind for the rest of his life. William insisted on keeping the bandages on his eyes until his wedding day. If the surgery were successful, he wanted the first person he saw to be his new bride. The wedding day arrived. The many guests – including royalty, cabinet members, and distinguished men and women of society – assembled together to witness the exchange of vows. William’s father, Sir William Hart Dyke, and the doctor who performed the surgery stood next to the groom, whose eyes were still covered with bandages. The organ trumpeted the wedding march, and the bride slowly walked down the aisle to the front of the church. As soon as she arrived at the altar, the surgeon took a pair of scissors out of his pocket and cut the bandages from William’s eyes. Tension filled the room. The congregation of witnesses held their breath as they waited to find out if William could see the woman standing before him. As he stood face-to-face with his bride-to-be, William’s words echoed throughout the cathedral, “You are more beautiful than I ever imagined!” Author Kent Crockett, who tells this story in his book, Making Today Count for Eternity, writes: “One day the bandages that cover our eyes will be removed. When we stand face-to-face with Jesus Christ and see His face for the very first time, His glory will be far more splendid than anything we have ever imagined in this life.” (Sisters Multnomah Publishers, 2001, pp. 101-102). (Fr. Tony) (   

14) The eye-opening prayer of a pastor with guts: His prayer still upsets some people. When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard: “Heavenly Father, We come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good.’ But that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of speech and expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our Forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!”
The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In six short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those
calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving
international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa and Korea. Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, The Rest of the Story, and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired. With the Lord’s help, may this prayer sweep over our Nation and wholeheartedly become our desire, so that we again can be called “one nation under God.”
Fr. Tony) (   

15) “Wwwwhat ddddid tttthe tttturkey ddddo?” I am reminded of a very devout Christian woman who went to a pet store. She saw this beautiful parrot, immediately fell in love with it and decided to buy it. Well, the owner knowing this lady said, “Lady, I cannot sell you that parrot.” The lady said, “Why not?” He said, “Well, you see, he was owned by a sailor and he curses a blue streak.” But the woman was not to be denied. She said, “I will change that parrot and turn him into a good parrot. I do want to buy him.” She took that parrot home, believing that with some Christian love and firm discipline he could be changed. No sooner had she gotten that parrot home and the parrot began cursing and swearing just as the man had warned. Well, she looked at that parrot and said, “I will not have that kind of language in this house, and if I hear any more of it I am going to put you in the freezer for ten minutes and teach you a lesson.” Well, the parrot continued to swear, so the woman took the parrot out of the cage and put him in the freezer. After ten minutes she took him out. The shivering parrot looked at her and said, “Pppplease, Llllady, wwwwould yyyyou ttttell mmmme jjjjust oooone tttthing? Wwwwhat ddddid tttthe tttturkey ddddo?” Well likewise these Pharisees thought that there was something wrong with this man or with his parents. But you see, his condition was simply the result of his birth. Likewise, we are sinners, spiritually blind from birth. 
(Fr. Tony) (   
16) “When he stands up, he can turn around!” The story’s told about a couple who lived on a beautiful piece of ground in an isolated area. In the course of time, the husband died. Before he died, he expressed his strong desire to be buried upon their property. His widow made the necessary arrangements with a funeral service center for digging grave in the North- South direction. But the diggers said: “We always dig them East and West because it has something to do with the Lord’s second coming from the East and the risen people facing Him.” But the practical widow insisted: “Dig it like I laid it out. When my husband stands up at resurrection, he needs no glasses and hearing aid to turn around and see the Lord coming from the East!” (Gerald Hill, Powderly, TX). 
(Fr. Tony) (   

17) Not seeing with both eyes: John Killinger tells the story of a man who visited one day in a classroom for visually impaired children. Troubled by what he saw, the man remarked, insensitively, “It must be terrible to go through life without eyes.” One little girl quickly responded, “It’s not half as bad as having two good eyes but still not being able to see.” Her point was well made. There is physical blindness, and there is another, even more tragic form of blindness that affects the spirit. Both forms of blindness are present in today’s Gospel reading. 
(Fr. Tony) (   

18) Now I see again! During World War II John Howard Griffin was blinded in an airplane explosion. For the next 12 years he couldn’t see a thing. Then, one day he was walking down a street near his parent’s home in Texas. Suddenly he began to see “red sand” in front of his eyes. Without warning, his sight returned again. An eye specialist explained to him later that a blockage of blood to the optic nerve, caused by the explosion, had opened, causing his sight to return again. Commenting on the experience, Griffin told a newspaper reporter “You don’t know what it is for a father to see his children for the first time. They were both much more beautiful than I ever suspected.” (Gerard Fuller in Stories for all Seasons). 
(Fr. Tony) (   

19) “We don’t do that. We BELIEVE in it: On an ABC News Special, In the Name of God, Peter Jennings interviewed the founder of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, John Wimber. Wimber said that the first time he went to Church he expected dramatic things to happen, but they didn’t. After attending Church for three Sundays, he became frustrated. After the worship service, he approached a man who looked like someone with authority. “When do you do it?” he asked. “When do we do what?” the man replied. “You know, the stuff,” Wimber answered. “And what stuff might that be?” the man asked. “The stuff in the Bible,” Wimber said, becoming more frustrated by the moment. “I still don’t understand,” the man replied. “You know,” said Wimber, “multiplying loaves and fish, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, giving sight to blind people. That stuff.” “Oh,” the man said, apologetically, “we don’t do that. We BELIEVE in it, and we pray about it. But we don’t actually DO it! Nobody does, except for those crazy fundamentalists.” Today’s Gospel tells us the story of a blind man who believed with trusting Faith and was healed. (Fr. Tony) (   

20) “Corpses do bleed.” There was a man in a psychiatric hospital one time, and one of his problems was that he was convinced he was dead. The psychiatrist tried every trick in the book, but nothing could change his mind. Finally, as the psychiatrist thought, he got a brilliant breakthrough. He got the man to agree that a corpse is lifeless, and therefore, not having any blood, it cannot bleed. Having got a clear acceptance of that simple fact, the psychiatrist proceeded to drive home the point. He got a pin, took the man’s finger, and gave him a good enough prod to draw blood. He squeezed the finger until the blood was clearly evident, and he then proclaimed, “Now can you see? That’s blood. You are bleeding.” The man looked at the blood in apparent disbelief, and then he turned to the psychiatrist with a look of amazement, and said, “Well, what do you know! Corpses do bleed!” The Pharisees in today’s gospel were not different from this mental patient. (Biblical IE). (Fr. Tony) (   

21) “A poor sinner, your brother.” In Vienna in Austria there is a Church in which deceased members of the former ruling family in Austria, the Hapsburgs, were buried. When royal funerals used to arrive, the mourners would knock at the door of the Church to be allowed in. A priest inside would ask, “Who is it that desires admission here?” A guard would call out, “His Apostolic Majesty, the Emperor.” The priest would answer, “I don’t know him.” They would knock a second time, and again the priest would ask, “Who is there?” The funeral guard outside would announce, “The Highest Emperor.” A second time the priest would say, “I don’t know him.” A third time they would knock on the door and the priest would ask, “Who is it?” The third time the answer would be, “A poor sinner, your brother,” and the funeral cortege would be admitted for the funeral. We all require inner vision to recognize who we truly are and thus to guard against spiritual blindness as taught by today’s Gospel. (Fr. Tommy Lane). (Fr. Tony) (   

22) Bearded wisdom: Early in his career, young Clarence Darrow was defending a client against an older, more experienced attorney, who sarcastically dismissed Darrow as “that beardless youth.”  Darrow rebutted, “My worthy adversary seems to downgrade me for not having a beard.  Let me reply with a story: The King of Spain once dispatched a youthful nobleman to the court of a neighboring monarch, who sneered, “Does the King of Spain lack men that he sends me a beardless boy?  To which the young ambassador replied, “Sire, if my King had supposed that you equated wisdom with a beard, he would have sent a goat.”  Clarence Darrow won the case! Prejudice often blinds us. (Bennet Cerf). (Fr. Tony) (   

23) Spiritual Blindness: A sixty-year-old woman living in a mid-western town was finally prevailed upon by her family to see the eye doctor.  She had never worn glasses in her life.  The doctor gave her a thorough test and asked her to return in three days when he would have her glasses ready.  He fitted the glasses and asked her to look out of the window.  Almost breathless, she exclaimed, “Why, I can see the steeple of our church, and it is three blocks away.”  “You mean you have never been able to see that steeple at that short a distance?” asked the doctor.  “Gracious no”, she declared, “I never knew I was supposed to see that far.”  “Madam”, said the eye expert, “you’ve been going for years half-blind.” -Similarly, many cannot see the truth which God has made known to us…Msgr. Arthur Tonne. (Fr. Tony) (   

24) Have you heard of the great writer Helen Keller? She was born in the late 19th century in Alabama. Shortly after her birth in 19 months she contracted a serious sickness, a severe fever which she ultimately survived from but that left her deaf and blind for the rest of her life. She could have easily given up hope, but she did not. Her father who was a writer himself put her in touch with Alexander Graham Bell who organized a teacher for her. The teacher taught her how to read, to speak and to behave. She accomplished a lot in life, reading and writing in Braille, going to the Radcliffe College, withstanding the taunts of those who mocked at her, graduating with a degree in Arts and writing a book etc. At times it was tough for her but through this painful process she only grew as a strong and confident person who stands as a model of hope for those who have disabilities. In our lives too we can be spiritually blind or turn a deaf ear to the unjust happenings that surround us. The readings of today highlight the metaphor of Darkness and in turn assure us that Christ is our light. By describing the anointing of David as the second king of Israel, the first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, illustrates how blind we are in our judgments and how much we need God’s help in our lives(Fr. Tony) (   

25) What Does 20/20 Vision Mean? Visual acuity is usually measured with a Snellen chart. Snellen charts display letters of progressively smaller size. “Normal” vision is 20/20. This means that the test subject sees the same line of letters at 20 feet that person with normal vision sees at 20 feet. 20/40 vision means that the test subject sees at 20 feet what a person with normal vision sees at 40 feet. Another way of saying this is that a person with 20/40 vision has vision that is only half as good as normal – or, objects must be at half the normal distance for him to see them. A person with 20/20 vision is able to see letters 1/10th as large as someone with 20/200 vision. 20/20 is not the best possible eyesight however, for example, 20/15 vision is better than 20/20. A person with 20/15 vision can see objects at 20 feet that a person with 20/20 vision can only see at 15 feet. 20/20 – Normal vision. Fighter pilot minimum. Required to read the stock quotes in the newspaper, or numbers in the telephone book. 20/40 – Able to pass Driver’s License Test in all 50 States. Most printed material is at this level. 20/80 – Able to read alarm clock at 10 feet. News Headlines are this size. 20/200 – Legal blindness. Able to see STOP sign letters. (source: •We have eyeglasses, contact lenses, eye drops, caps that shade our vision, polarized lens that eliminate glare. We can have perfect vision, and it does little for us in dark room, much less a pitch-black room. We start fumbling for the light switch right away. Christ restores our vision to its fullest spiritual potential through his light and his perfect vision. (E-Priest). 
(Fr. Tony) (   

26) The blind genius: Jacqui Kess-Gardner narrates a touching story of how she received light and insight into God’s plan (cf. “These Are the Children We Hold Dear”, Guideposts, May 1997, p. 28-31). When Jermaine, her second baby was born, one eye was sealed shut and the other was a milky mass. He had no bridge to his nose and his face looked crushed. Anger at God surged through her. She could not stand anyone staring at her baby and avoided going out of the house. What hurt Jacqui the most was not getting any smiles from Jermaine, which is common in blind infants who cannot mimic a smile because they do not see anyone smiling at them. She felt it was another slight from God. Her younger sister, Keetie pleaded with her insistently: “Jacqui, you’ve got to pray to God to forgive you. You’ve got to come back to Him. He has a plan.” She resisted. One day when Jermaine was six months old and strapped to her back, she found herself crying as Keetie pleaded with her once more on the phone. She put down the spoon she was using to stir the spaghetti sauce and repeated the words Keetie was praying: “Lord, forgive me. I have been angry at You. I’m sorry. Help me trust in Your wisdom. I know You have some plan in this. Help me see it.” Two months later God’s plan was revealed. Jacqui recounts: “Jamaal had been practicing the piano in the family room, playing ‘Lightly Row’ again and again. (By then I had taken to leaving Jermaine strapped to his high chair next to the piano while his brother played.) He had just finished, and came downstairs to the bedroom where my husband James and I were sitting. Suddenly a familiar plink plunk-plunk, plink plunk-plunk floated down the stairs. I looked at James; James looked at me. It couldn’t be Jamaal. He was jumping on the bed in front of us. We stared at each other for a second, then tore upstairs. At the piano, his head thrown back, a first-ever smile splitting his face, Jermaine was playing ‘Lightly Row.’ The right keys, the right rhythm. It was extraordinary.” Jacqui thanked Jesus and she knew that Jermaine had found the incredible gift of God. At two-and-a-half, the marvelous blind boy was playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. When he was four, he performed with Stevie Wonder. At age five, he played for Nancy Reagan at the White House. He appeared on national television and received invitations to perform from far and wide. The dream of this blind boy who has brought so much light, inspiration and joy to others is to start a music school for the blind. The proud mother happily affirms: “God had a plan for our son. He did indeed.” Jacqui’s Paschal experience from a situation of spiritual darkness to light gives us a glimpse of the fascinating spiritual journey of the Man Born Blind presented in today’s Gospel reading (Jn 9:1-41). (Lectio Divina). (Fr. Tony) (
27) A crucifix, a Divine Mercy image and a Bible. There’s nothing surprising about a Catholic keeping those three devotional items about. What’s surprising about these particular items is where they’re housed: inside the locker room of the Carolina Panthers football team. Or to be more precise, inside the locker of Panthers wide receiver Chris Horn. The devotional items housed in his locker are just one of the ways the Idaho native lets his teammates know about his Catholic faith. Horn’s faith is no secret in the NFL, mostly because as Horn, 28, moved through the ranks of professional football, he discovered that the more open he was about his Catholicism, the easier it was to live his Faith. He also discovered that the more open he was, the more chances he had to help others. Now teammates regularly seek counsel from him on issues ranging from abortion ethics to marital problems. Even before he felt free to share his beliefs, Horn still took his faith seriously. The second oldest of five, he remembers his mother coming home early in the morning after working all night and forgoing sleep so she could take the children to Mass. “Her sacrifices and lessons were priceless”, Horn recalled. Now married and the father of two, Horn and his wife, Amy, try to provide the same kind of faithful witness to their young children. Together, they’ve twice prayed the yearlong St. Brigitte novena for each of their children, and family Mass-going and family prayers are integral parts of daily life. In the world of professional sports, where an injury or a bad season can quickly end a career, that daily practice of Faith provides a steady foundation for Horn’s family. Conversely, the discipline that years of training for his sports demanded has helped Horn grow in the practice of spiritual disciplines – prayer, forgiveness, charity. Horn knows the lessons he’s learned about the Faith through football are lessons others can learn as well, which is why, a year ago, he joined Catholic Athletes for Christ (CAC). The recently founded organization, made up of athletes and former athletes, uses sports as a platform to teach the Faith. Through speaking engagements and conferences arranged by CAC, Horn regularly speaks to youth and men’s groups about God, the Church and football. According to Horn, “As Catholics we haven’t always been as vocal as we need to be about our Faith. But because of the importance our culture gives to sports, we can use athletics as a way to start talking to people about it and reach people who might not normally be open.” (Lectio Divina). L/20 (Fr. Tony) (