Gospel Reflections

4th Sunday of Lent

(Sunday 26th March 2017)

To read the Gospel of 4th Sunday of Lent, please click here!

 

Let us see people and life with the eyes of God – (John 9:1-41)

A central purpose of the miracles of Jesus is to lead us to faith, a deepening of faith which in turn leads us to worship God. That was the purpose of the Exodus from slavery in Egypt – that the people of Israel could be free to worship God. The miracles are also of course expressions of the compassionate love that God has for us all, especially anyone in distress.

The Gospel of the man born blind in John 9 recalls a memory of Elizabeth, a blind woman in Tanzania.

As a young missionary, I travelled to outstations a few times a week to minister to those who were far away from the parish church.

Elizabeth lived in a village that was in a remote valley. There was no road into the village so we got there by walking over the hills. Elizabeth hadn’t left there in years.

After Mass, she would welcome us into her home where she fed us. She was an incredibly happy elderly woman and was blind for years. I wondered if something could be done for her at the Medical Missionaries of Mary hospital 60km away, so I asked her if she would be interested in exploring the possibilities.

An appointment was made and we managed to get the pick-up truck through a rocky track in and out of the village. I was driving, with Elizabeth and her brother in the front seat beside. It was a slow laborious journey with the truck bouncing up and down and from side to side.

For the woman who could not see, it was hilarious and she shouted out, “there must be a God! Who else would send a priest on such a bad road to take me to hospital?”

In hospital, they discovered she simply had cataracts which the doctor removed. For us in Ireland cataracts are not a big deal but in Tanzania it usually meant a life of blindness for anyone living in a remote place.

I was there the day the day the bandages came were taken off her eyes. The nurse put glasses on her. I was the first person she saw. She held my face in her hands laughing, thanking God and everyone. It was such a feeling of honour to witness the opening of eyes that were blind, a feeling that can’t be described, a joy that can’t be expressed in words.

What it did for Elizabeth was that it strengthened the faith she already had; for her community, it awakened a faith they had lost. It wasn’t a miracle but for all of us it was a sign of God’s compassionate presence in our lives, a sign of how he uses us as instruments of healing.

When Elizabeth was without physical sight, she had perfect inner vision and looked at life with the gaze of God, a loving joyful gaze, a vision that was made clearer by her surgery.

What I pray for is the inner vision to see people and life with the eyes of God so that every experience – good or bad – will lead us into a deeper relationship with Him, a life in which I worship Him in spirit and truth.

Fr. Eamonn Monson SAC

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