Fourth Sunday in Lent at Mississippi Abbey

A blind boy sat at a busy corner in Chicago.  Someone had printer a sign for him saying, “I am blind.  Please help me.”  Many people walked by.  Some of them dropped coins into his bucket.  Then one man stopped, picked up the sign and turned it around.  He wrote something on the back and put it down next to the bucket.  Then he said to the boy, “I think this new sign will help you. Let’s wait and see.”  Soon many people were dropping coins into his bucket, lots of them. The boy was puzzled by this sudden generosity, so he asked the man, “What did you write?”  He said“I wrote,  ‘The sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day, but I can’t see it.’  When people compare what they can see to your blindness they feel more compassion.  That’s why they are being so generous.”  The compassion and generosity of Jesus is much greater!

The man born blind also lived in total darkness. He never saw a rose-colored sunset, or the blood red lips of his mother when she kissed him. Everything he touched was pitch black: his food was black, even flowers and water were entirely black. One day he heard Jesus saying, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” Jesus said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” Someone had to lead him there, for it was far away, at the southern tip of the City of David. When he put his hands into the cool water and splashed it over his face, light suddenly exploded in his head. Rays of sunlight pierced his eyes like spears. At first the brightness hurt. Then the world of colors, shapes and movement began dancing around him.  It was wonderful, but Jesus had an even greater gift to give him, faith.

Jesus asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man? … The one speaking with you?”  He answered, “I do believe,” and worshiped Jesus. The gift of faith is even greater than the gift of sight. When Helen Keller was eight years old she asked, “Where did I come from? And where shall I go when I die? Who made the earth and the seas? What makes the sun so hot? Why does the earth not fall, it is so very large and heavy? … May I read the book called the Bible?”1 She did, and she also received the gift of faith. She writes, “My eyes filled with tears, and my heart beat with love for the gentle Nazarene who restored sight to the blind and speech to the mute, healed the sick, fed the hungry and turned sorrow into joy. … It fills my heart with joy to know that God loves me … and that we shall see God in heaven and always be happy.”2

We were also born blind, unable to see the infinite beauty of God face to face because this wonderful gift of sharing in the divine nature was tragically lost at the beginning of human history. Confusion about the meaning of life, and the darkness of death enveloped the whole world. Then Jesus mixed the life-giving water of his divinity with the dust of our humanity and became our healing remedy in the waters of Baptism.

The blind man had washed many times without being healed. It was only when the water in the Pool of Siloam was invested with the power of Christ that he received his sight. Helen Keller touched water many times without knowing it had a name until Ann Sullivan opened her inner eyes to the gift of language and the ability to communicate. In a far more marvelous way the waters of baptism are invested with the power of Christ to open our inner eyes to the purpose of life, to give us awareness with love of God, that’s the gift of prayer, and best of all, the greatest grace, the gift of sharing God’s eyes, his own divine nature so that one day we will see him face to face.

1 Story of My Life by Helen Keller, Airmont Publisher 1965.