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Homily for Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A, 2023 - Dcn Jim Curtain

We’re sitting down at home, just had a nice dinner, relaxing. We’re watching the television, and a story comes on, and we decide we don’t want to watch that, and change the channel. Sometimes, I must admit, I change the channel because I’m sick of bad news, sick of hearing about war, or about abuse in church or society, or because I’m annoyed at some event, or sometimes because my football team lost. Whatever it is, I want to ignore it.

What is it that I’m blind to, or that I want to be blind to, to ignore?

It’s a good question to ask ourselves - what are we blind to, what is our society blind to? What do we prefer to ignore? Think of some of the injustices and abuses that happen daily in our country. The plight of the aborted unborn, the plight of the prisoners, young and old, locked in their cells for 23 hours a day, the plight of the refugee stuck in detention for years on end. There was a story this week talking of the new homeless, that is, older women left homeless by divorce. What are we blind to, what is our society blind to?

Today’s readings are about vision and light. Samuel needed God’s help to see in David, the youngest son, the future king. Paul tells us to live in the light, to see Christ in light and to welcome that light. And in the gospel, Jesus gives light and vision to the blind man, but those opposing Jesus who are willfully blind don’t see the wonderful miracle. They are stuck in blindness that forgets that Law is there to serve people, not to oppress them. Is Law, indeed is our religion, a guide to lead us to the light, or a prison to keep us in the dark?

The fact that we are here in church today probably means that for most of us, most of our experience of religion was positive, a religion of light. However I’m sure that for at least some of us there are some memories of religion, of faith, being used to control, even oppress us. Put some darkness into our life! That didn’t happen much in my life, but I can look back on occasions when there was the angry, bitter priest or the sarcastic cruel teacher. As those who opposed Jesus could abuse the Jewish Law, meant to bring people to the love of God, to instead control and oppress others, so in churches do we see religion sometime used to oppress. If anyone here hasn’t ever experienced that, maybe you should talk to a family member who was raised as a churchgoer, Catholic or otherwise, and now won’t come near a church. They may well have some sad, interesting stories.

Our faith, our prayer, our love of God revealed in Jesus should open our eyes to light and truth. May we all be inspired by what we see to work to free ourselves and others from blindness, to be ministers of God’s love and light, and to work for justice.


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