Gospel Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Lent 2018
Reflection by Jim Manzardo
In today’s gospel, Jesus encounters a man physically blind from birth and other men spiritually blind from closed hearts and minds. A few among us are like the former and all of us are like the latter to varying degrees throughout our lives. In more modern psychological terms, spiritual blindness equates to unawareness, or unconsciousness, and, according to Carl Jung, “There’s no coming to consciousness without pain.”
Jesus puts it another way, at the end of the story of the blind man. He says that he came to bring judgement (what the Greek New Testament translates as, crisis) “so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Jesus tells us that one path to spiritual sight or awareness, perhaps the greatest path, is through critical moments and experiences - what we might refer to as wake-up calls.
Today’s Gospel reminds us that choosing to admit, accept and open our hearts and minds to the “crises” of our shared brokenness can bring the gift of a new way of seeing - a deep inner freedom. Of course, most of us do not seek out crises. But, life itself, from our mother’s womb to our death, is full of these. Yet when we close ourselves to these critical moments, we risk becoming blind.
When I served as a chaplain on one of Solidarity Bridge’s General Surgery missions to Bolivia, most of the patients whom I visited spoke to me of trusting, of turning to and calling upon Dios for help and strength, or simply of crying out in fear to Dios. Their spiritual distress, or crisis, was no different than that of the patients and parents I encounter daily in my work as a chaplain at a children’s hospital in Chicago. Illness and the threat of death often force us, or perhaps invite us, to confront our vulnerability, our deepest fears, and to surrender to the mystery.
Doña Lucy, one patient I met, told me how difficult her life had been, including a husband who did not treat her well. One day, she heard a song on the radio, “I’m going to live. I’m going to enjoy my life. I’m going to make the best of my life.” From that day on, she said, her life began to change, her focus began to shift, and she began looking for the virtue in others. “No matter how bad they were, I tried to find some virtue.” From a Gospel perspective, it was in crisis in Doña Lucy’s life that opened the eyes of her heart and mind to the grace of the mystical Christ speaking through a poet; she in turn chose to cooperate and to view her life with a different lens.
as we each experience struggles of all kinds in our daily life, may crisis function as an invitation to lift our blindness. Help us to accept the invitation to see ourselves, others, life and You, anew.
Since 1995, Jim Manzardo has been a full-time bilingual chaplain at the Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago where he works primarily in the general ICU, with the palliative care team and in nursing orientation. He served as a Spanish interpreter for the Solidarity Bridge Multi-Specialty Mission Trip in 2014 and as Chaplain on the General Surgery Mission Trip in 2016.
PRAY - FAST - GIVE
Your Lenten almsgiving will restore lives and
relieve suffering in Bolivia.
* Catholic liturgy provides two sets of readings for the middle three weeks of Lent. One set is used to accompany those who are preparing to be baptized and enter fully into the life of the Church. In solidarity with their journey of faith, we have chosen those readings for this week.
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