Sunday March 29, 2020                   

Readings: EZ 37:12-14, ROM 8:8-11, JN 11:1-45

I had a job at a racetrack as a stable boy and hotwalker one summer when I was in college–harness racing with standard-bred horses pulling sulkies. I liked the  horses but I also enjoyed being around the trainers and drivers. One day I asked a trainer about blinders, these devices a little bit larger than a credit card that they put beside the eyes of some of the horses. He explained that some horses get skittish around other horses, so the blinders are used to have the horses keep their eyes ahead on the goal. But he also explained that some horses grow out of the skittishness and that in general it is better if the horse has no blinders.

I don’t think it’s a perfect analogy, but I like to compare it to following Christ and comprehending and participating in his Resurrection.  St. Paul in his letter to the Romans writes, “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.” Our goal should be to have his Spirit living in us!

We all have blind spots, often that we are unaware of, that inhibit us from fully accepting the presence of the Spirit. Chris Haw, Professor of Theology at a Jesuit university, the University of Scranton, calls it, “the arrogance of pretending to have no bias” and “the closed-mindedness of open-mindedness.” [1] We keep our eyes straight ahead on Christ the Light. But to follow Christ and fully participate in his Resurrection, we have to look around us, recognize our blind spots and take off our blinders.

This Lent in particular provides an opportunity for us to examine our lives and look for our blind spots. The third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent in Cycle A (this year) are the three scrutinies and all three Gospel readings are from John, These three weeks are used in the RCIA process and provide a microcosm of Lent in particular and living a Christian life in general.

In the first scrutiny, we see Jesus meet the Samaritan woman at the well. The message is that God’s grace, the living water, is for everyone, regardless of circumstances of life, culture, ethnicity, or even religious belief. I ask myself, “Where are my blind spots”? “Am I willing to take my blinders off?”

 In the second scrutiny, Jesus encounters a blind man. Many in the crowd think the man’s blindness is punishment for something he or his parents did. Jesus opened the man’s eyes so that he could see. He opened the eyes of many in the crowd as well; they were amazed and saw that Jesus must be from God. However, others were afraid to say that and still others accused Jesus of sinning because he opened the man’s eyes on the Sabbath. I ask myself, “Do I refuse to see Jesus if it is inconvenient?” “Do I use blinders because I don’t like what I see around me?”

In today’s Gospel, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, foreshadowing the event we will celebrate in two weeks, the Resurrection of Jesus. As a young boy and into adulthood, I focused on the resurrection of the human body of Jesus. But if we stay there, we minimize the meaning.  Understanding the life and Resurrection of Jesus leads us to a higher level of consciousness. Jesus knew the law better than anyone, including the Pharisees and other detractors and doubters. But Jesus showed us that obedience to God is not about dutifully following the law, but rather engaging the Spirit in the way we live our lives. I ask myself, “Do I see God in the faces and lives of others” “Do I see the opportunity to be a source of the Spirit for others?”

We live in a world of doubt and uncertainty, conflict and division. The coronavirus amplifies our anxiety. The Resurrection is our source of hope. In these anxious times, we can be the Resurrection for others when we throw away our blinders.

[1] Chris Haw, “From Willow Creek to Sacred Heart” (Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 2012), 127

Deacon Marty