Fourth Sunday of Lent (José Antonio Pagola)

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For the excluded

He is blind from birth.  It is neither his nor his parents’ fault, but his destiny will be marked forever.  People look at him as a sinner who is punished by God.  Jesus’ disciples ask him whose is the sin, the blind man’s or his parents’.  Jesus sees him in a different light.  Since he has seen him, he only thinks of rescuing him from that miserable life of a beggar who is despised by all as a sinner.  Jesus feels called by God to defend, welcome, and cure precisely those who live excluded and humiliated.

After a laborious cure in which he also has to collaborate with Jesus, the blind man discovers light for the first time.  The encounter with Jesus has changed his life.  Finally he can enjoy a life of dignity, without fear of being ashamed in front of anyone.

He is mistaken.  The religious leaders feel obligated to control the purity of religion.  They know who is a sinner and who is not.  They will decide if he can be accepted into the religious community.

The cured beggar openly confesses that it was Jesus who came to him and cured him, but Pharisees, irked, rejected him:  “We know that this man is a sinner.”  The man insists on defending Jesus:  he is a prophet, he is from God.  The Pharisees cannot bear with him:  “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?”

The Gospel writer says that “when Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him.”  The exchange is brief.  When Jesus asks him if he believes in the Messiah, the one thrown out says:  “Who is he, sir, so that I may believe in him.”  Moved, Jesus answers him:  He is not far from you.  “You have seen him; the one speaking with you is he.”  The beggar tells him: “I do believe, Lord.”

That is how Jesus is.  He always comes to meet those who are not given official welcome by religion.  He does not abandon those who seek and love him though they are excluded from religious communities and institutions.  Those who do not have a place in our churches have a special place in his heart.

Who will bring Jesus’ message today to those group of people who, at any time, can hear unjust public condemnations from blind religious leaders, to those who go to Christian celebrations afraid of being recognized, those who cannot receive communion in peace at our Masses, those who are forced to live their faith in Jesus in the silence of their hearts, almost secretly, clandestinely?  Friends whom I do not know, both men and women, do not forget it:  when Christians reject you, Jesus welcomes you.

José Antonio Pagola

March 30, 2014
4 Lent (A)
John 9, 1-41

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