1 The Lord is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.

3 He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.

4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.

6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, *
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

GOSPEL:  John 9:1-41

​​As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.”

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

This morning we are going to see how Jesus healed a man born blind. As we step back and look at the story, it may become clear that this is also your story- Jesus has healed you too, but from a different kind of blindness. Jesus literally took this opportunity to change the way the blind man saw the world and Jesus has done the same thing for us.

As Jesus was walking he saw a blind man begging (didn’t have welfare or disability so if unable to work you were forced into streets to beg.) Whose sin- times back then it was a common belief that your disability was a punishment from God. Old Testament law said that sins of parents passed children of 3rd and 4th generation from Exodus 20:5. Jesus appears to be correcting the misunderstanding of those who held that belief that birth defects comes from the sin of the parents or grandparents.

Jesus answered that it is no one’s fault. This happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. God was going to do something special in this man’s life. Being born was part of God’s plan. Good thing to keep in mind as we come into contact with others today.

Now Jesus is ready to perform the big miracle. He opens the man’s soul. Found him and asked if he believed in the Son of Man. Tell me who he is and Jesus answered. You’re looking at him. Then the real miracle, the man said Lord, I believe and he worshiped him. The man was already healed and didn’t have to say that. In contrast to the Pharisees, the eyes of the man were opened wide. When he saw Jesus he didn’t just see a prophet, or a man of God, with new eyes of faith he saw Jesus for who he was, the Son of God.

After healing the man he said this is why he came into the world- so the blind will see- so he could open the eyes of faith to those whose souls are spiritually blind.

Do you see how this man’s story is our story? Did you know that you were born into this world with the eyes of your soul glued shut? You were born spiritually blind. You couldn’t see who Jesus Christ was. When you can’t see Jesus, you can’t see who God is. And when you can’t see God, lots of things don’t make sense in this world.

Jesus didn’t let this happen to you and me. Jesus intervened. What Jesus did for this man in this story Jesus has also done for you and me. He came to you and he opened the eyes of your soul. He didn’t use mud. For some Baptism through water, for others gave sight when older. He came thru the word and opened your eyes with the message of the Gospel. I forgive you, Jesus said, I died for you. You are my child and I will be your shepherd, your light. That’s the Gospel and that’s how Jesus opened your eyes to things about God that you may have never seen before.

A few weeks from now is Easter, what better time to introduce someone to Christ? He can open their eyes just as he opened yours. So they can see the beauty of the world that surrounds us with love. Jesus says to do it right now. Don’t procrastinate. Keep your eyes open for those whose eyes are spiritually shut.  Those who have not opened their eyes yet and help them come into the light, the light of Jesus Christ.  In this troubling of times as so many are walking in the darkness of despair, anguish and hopelessness, let them see the joy of Jesus in your eyes.  Let them see that there is hope beyond today.  God bless you each and every one.

Fr. Carl+


FIRST READING: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

SECOND READING: Ephesians 5:8-14

Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

                      “Sleeper, awake!
                        Rise from the dead,
                        and Christ will shine on you.”

A Prayer for the Fourth Sunday in Lent
March 22, 2020

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.​

St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Bridgeville, Delaware