JOHN 9:1-41 AND EPHESIANS 5:8-14
Week of April 3, 2011
Rev. Marguerite Sheehan
Scripture: John 9: 1-41 and Ephesians 5: 8-14
Focusing Scripture: Ephesians 5: 8-10
For once you were in darkness, but now in the LORD you are light. Live as children of light – for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the LORD.
In today’s readings we hear the long story about Jesus healing the man who had been blind from birth and how that man had to testify over and over again about what had happened. His parents did not stand up for him because they were afraid that they would be thrown out of the synagogue and after all he was “of age” and should speak for himself. He had been in darkness his whole life and suddenly he was totally in the light. There was much that he did not understand but what he knew he professed. Jesus had spit on the ground, made mud, plastered it on his eyes and sent him to wash it off. And then, he could see. He had become, in one split second, a child of the light.
Paul exhorts the people of Ephesus to live as children of the light and tells them that the way that they will know if they are “in the light” is that they will be saturated in all that is good and right and true. The evidence will be in what they are drawn to – the good and right and true. Paul says that we are to just try to find out what is pleasing to the LORD. Just live our lives trying to find out what is pleasing, what is good and right and true.
But in fact, mostly we live in the dark. So much pulls at our hearts and our minds, telling us to turn this way or that way, in order to find happiness or at least a moment of peace. In Lent we are encouraged to stop the restless search for things and go deeper, letting go of what blinds us and taking on what might stretch our imagination. This journey of going through the darkness and toward another light is a journey that will ultimately take us through suffering and into liberation. But how do we know where to go and where to turn when we are blind?
Thomas Merton wrote a prayer for these Lenten times. He admits from the start “My Lord God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.” We are blind. We have no real idea where we are going. We cannot even see the road ahead of us and we know that more often than not, we deceive even ourselves. We have no idea where we are going.
But then Merton changes the conversation from one of “knowing” to one of “believing.” He continues his prayer with this: “But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.” Whenever we come into the Lenten wilderness we are called to trust that our mere desire to please God does in fact please God and it is God’s pleasure that we can rest in. This is a radical shift from anxiety and a shallow Lenten attempt to give up stuff in order to be loved, and instead, to dwell in our deepest desire to simply know the love of God.
Merton finishes his prayer in the spirit of trust and hope and the sure sense of being at one with God. “Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
This Lent, as we face our own darkness and blindness and try to some how put into words what has happened to us when we were touched by Jesus, perhaps we can take this prayer of not knowing to heart. May we trust always, when we seem to be lost, or blind, or in the shadow of death, and cannot see where we are going, that we are never alone. Jesus covers us in the mud and the muck of life. Can we trust that mucking around in the darkness pleases God? Can we trust that God is with us and that it is up to us, because we are of age, to tell what happened? Could we at least just try?