Friday, March 31, 2017

Today's readings and meditation

FIRST READING (Wisdom 2:1,12-22)
Ungodly men reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions; he reproaches us for sins against the law, and accuses us of sins against our training. He professes to have knowledge of God, and calls himself a child of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of him is a burden to us, because his manner of life is unlike that of others, and his ways are strange.

“We are considered by him as something base, and he avoids our ways as unclean; he calls the last end of the righteous happy, and boasts that God is his father.

“Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous man is God’s son, he will help him, and will deliver him from the hand of his adversaries. Let us test him with insult and torture, that we may find out how gentle he is, and make trial of his forbearance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray, for their wickedness blinded them, and they did not know the secret purposes of God, nor hope for the wages of holiness, nor discern the prize for blameless souls.

GOSPEL (John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30)
Jesus went about in Galilee; he would not go about in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill him.

Now the Jews’ feast of Tabernacles was at hand.

After his brethren had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private.

Some of the people of Jerusalem said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? Yet we know where this man comes from; and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.”

So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord; he who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.”

So they sought to arrest him; but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come.

His hour had not yet come - Servants of the Word

Testing God's ways Bolling Bryant

The "Hour" of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel Fr Felix Just

Do you live your life in a manner which honours the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ with passion? Jesus took our sin upon himself and willingly suffered death on a cross for our sake, undergoing punishment that we deserve. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, establishing his victory over sin and death, and in doing so, restored humanity's broken relationship with God the Father. Throughout his earthly pilgrimage, Jesus met conflict and opposition with grace and strength in order to accomplish his Father's will. We either accept by faith his claims and promises or we reject them with unyielding disbelief and contempt. The stakes are high, both on our earthly journey and in eternity, literally becoming a matter of life or death for each of us.

The religious leaders of the day wanted to arrest Jesus as they were unable to accept and acknowledge his claim to be the Son of God. Jesus boldly stated that he was the Messiah, God's Anointed One, and cried out as he taught in the temple, "The one who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me" (John 7:28b-29 NRSV). Jesus claimed that the Jews did not know God, that he alone knew him, and that God sent him. To the Jews, the words from Jesus cut like a double-edged sword. In their eyes, Jesus was committing the crime of blasphemy. This same choice is still before us today. Either what Jesus said about himself is false, or he is telling us the truth about himself, in which case, he is what he claimed to be, the Son of God.

Our Passion for Jesus strengthens as we draw near his peace, love, and joy, by humbly surrendering our lives in obedience to his will. The choice is ours.
The Reverend David A. Sullivan

Eternal God,
who art the light of the minds that know thee,
the joy of the hearts that love thee,
and the strength of the wills that serve thee;
grant us so to know thee,
that we may truly love thee,
and so to love thee
that we may fully serve thee,
whom to serve is perfect freedom,
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Today's readings and reflection

FIRST READING (Exodus 32:7-14)
The Lord said to Moses, “Go down; for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves; they have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them; they have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, `These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’”

And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people; now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; but of you I will make a great nation.”

But Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does thy wrath burn hot against thy people, whom thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, `With evil intent did he bring them forth, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou didst swear by thine own self, and didst say to them, `I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.’”

And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.

GOSPEL (John 5:31-47)
At that time: Jesus said to the Jews, If I bear witness to myself, my testimony is not true; there is another who bears witness to me, and I know that the testimony which he bears to me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony which I receive is from man; but I say this that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.

“But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent.

“You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

“I do not receive glory from men. But I know that you have not the love of God within you.

“I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.

“How can you believe, who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

All the Scriptures point to Jesus - Servants of the Word

There is no substitute for the truth Edward Morse

What is our molten calf? Fr Alfonse Nazzaro

In Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit God gave us the full and final revelation of Himself. His Being now for us is the First Reality, incomparably more evident than all the transient phenomena of this world. We sense His divine presence both within us and without: in the supreme majesty of the universe, in the human face, in the lightning flash of thought. He opens our eyes that we may behold and delight in the beauty of His creation. He fill our souls with love towards all mankind. He indescribably gentle touch pierces our heart. And in the hours when His imperishable Light illumines our heart we know that we shall not die. We know this with a knowledge to prove in the ordinary way, but which for us requires no proof, since the Spirit Himself bears witness within us . . .

. . . For us, Christians, Jesus Christ is the measure of all things, divine and human. “In Him dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead” (Col 2:9) and of mankind. He is our most perfect ideal. In Him we find the answer to all our problems, which without Him would be insoluble. He is n truth the mystical axis of the universe. If Christ were not the Son of God, then Salvation through the adoption of man by God the Father would be totally incomprehensible. With Christ man steps forward into divine eternity.
(Archimandrite Sophrony (1896 -1993) in “His LIfe is Mine”, pp 22-23, 31)

PRAYER (From the Coptic Liturgy of St Basil – 4th century)
Lord our God, great, eternal, wonderful in glory, 
who keepest covenant and promises 
for those that love thee with their whole heart; 
who art the life of all, 
the help of those that flee unto thee, 
the hope of those who cry unto thee; 
cleanse us from our sins, secret and open, 
and from every thought displeasing to thy goodness, 
cleanse our bodies and souls, 
our hearts and consciences, 
that with a pure heart and a clear soul, 
with perfect love and calm hope, 
we may venture confidently and fearlessly 
to pray unto thee. 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Today's readings and reflection

FIRST READING (Isaiah 49:8-15)
Thus says the Lord: “In a time of favour I have answered you, in a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; saying to the prisoners, ‘Come forth,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’ They shall feed along the ways, on all bare heights shall be their pasture; they shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall smite them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be raised up. Lo, these shall come from afar, and lo, these from the north and from the west, and these from the land of Syene.”

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted.

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.”

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

GOSPEL (John 5:17-30)
At that time Jesus said, “My Father is working still, and I am working.”

This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows him all that he himself is doing; and greater works than these will he show him, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.

“I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

My Father is working still, and I am working - Servants of the Word

I will not be forgetful of thee - Fr Mark Daniel Kirby OSB

It is tempting to wonder whether the people of the Old Testament, when they heard the words of hope and consolation offered by their prophets, reacted as some of us often do today when we hear our leaders putting forward their plans for a better and brighter tomorrow. For it could not have been easy for a people who frequently saw themselves as abandoned and forgotten by God to accept such words and promises as those voiced by the prophet Isaiah which we hear in today’s first reading - the promise to restore the land, to release those in darkness, and to lead those who are hungry and thirsty to springs of water.

Yet if these prophetic pronouncements must have often appeared beyond the comprehension and wildest hopes of Israel, how much more remarkable it is to read in the Gospels that Jesus not only comes to fulfil these prophecies but to realize them in a far more marvellous way than the prophets were ever able to conceive. For Jesus, who reveals himself as the very presence of God among his people, not only discloses something of the mystery of God’s inner life but actually invites each of us to share in this divine life in eternity.

Notice that Jesus does not force us to accept this generous invitation. Just as he waits for the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda to reply to the question “Do you want to be well?” before curing him (John 5:6), so he wants us to respond to his promise of new life by listening to his words and seeking to do good. The traditional Lenten practices of prayer, alms giving and fasting offer us precisely the chance to listen to God, to do good to others and to ourselves. In such a way, we can journey towards Easter full of praise for a God who is ‘kind and full of compassion’, who does not forget his people but rather, in his extravagance, promises to raise us up to share in his own divine life.

Good Jesu, fountain of love:
fill me with thy love,
absorb me into thy love,
compass me with thy love,
that I may see all things in the light of thy love,
receive all things as tokens of thy love,
speak of all things in words breathing of thy love,
win through thy love others to thy love;
be kindled, day by day, with a new glow of thy love,
until I be fitted to enter into thine everlasting love,
to adore thy love and love to adore thee,
my God and my all.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Today's reading and reflection

FIRST READING  (Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12)
The angel brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar.

Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate, that faces toward the east; and the water was coming out on the south side.

Going on eastward with a line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep.

Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the loins.

Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through.

And he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen this?”

Then he led me back along the bank of the river.

As I went back, I saw upon the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the stagnant waters of the sea, the water will become fresh.And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.

“And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.”

GOSPEL (John 5:1-16)
There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethzatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed.

One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.”

Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked.

Now that day was the sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, `Take up your pallet, and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, `Take up your pallet, and walk’?”

Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place.

Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.”

The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.
And this was why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did this on the sabbath.

Do we really want to be changed? - Servants of the Word

In the River of God - David Wilkerson

The Holy Spirit is the River St Ambrose of Milan

“’The river of God is brimming with water.’ ‘You have provided their food, for this is your way of preparing them.’ There can be no doubt about the river referred to, for the prophet says: ‘There is a river whose streams gladden the city of God;’ and in the gospel, the Lord himself says: ‘Streams of living water welling up to eternal life will flow from the heart of anyone who drinks the water I shall give him. He was speaking of the Holy Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive.’ The river of God is brimming with water; that is to say, we are inundated by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and from that fountain of life the river of God pours into us in full flood.

“We also have food prepared for us. And who is this food? It is he in whom we are prepared for life with God, for by receiving his holy body we receive a place in the communion of his holy body. This is what is meant by the words of the psalm: ‘You have provided their food, for this is your way of preparing them.’ For as well as refreshing us now, that food also prepares us for the life to come.

“We who have been reborn through the sacrament of baptism experience intense joy when we feel within us the first stirrings of the Holy Spirit. We begin to have an insight into the mysteries of faith, we are able to prophesy and to speak with wisdom. We become steadfast in hope and receive the gift of healing. Demons are made subject to our authority. These gifts enter us like a gentle rain, and once having done so, little by little, they bring forth fruit in abundance.”
St Hilary of Poitiers (c.300 - c.368)

O, Ancient of Days,
We come from rivers that are not rivers, 
from fountains that do not sing of life, 
from barren springs where promise has failed, 
from stony wells that mock the dream of Jubilee. 

But from the abundance of your life, 
roll down upon us now the tide of your sweet Spirit, 
that flagging faith be refreshed, 
that stubborn wounds be cleansed and healed, 
that brokenness be drenched with wholeness, 
that what is defiled and disgrace be washed and relieved. 

From the headwaters of your mercy and goodness, 
flood the flatlands of resignation, 
carry away what is trifling, jaded, and vain, 
fill the cisterns provided to slake our thirst, 
fill us with yearning to mirror your lavish giving, 
brim the hearts of your people with tears of compassion 
and the laughter of joyful service. 

From heaven’s watershed of grace and salvation, 
cascade upon us the fullness of your realm; 
let its thunder possess our whole hearts, 
let its simplicity be our peace, 
let its quaking be our only strength. 

River of healing, Spirit of life,
grant this we beg you;
for love of your only One we pray. Amen.
- Jonathan Larson

Monday, March 27, 2017

Today's readings & meditation

FIRST READING (Isaiah 65:17-21)
Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

“I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”

GOSPEL (John 4:43-54)
Jesus departed to Galilee. For he himself testified that a prophet has no honour in his own country.

So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast, for they too had gone to the feast. So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine.

And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill.When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.Jesus therefore said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”

The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way.

As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.”

The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live”; and he himself believed, and all his household.

This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

Seeking the Lord with expectant faith - Servants of the Word

Jesus, signs & wonders, and the new creation - Fr Robert Altier

Signs and Wonders Presentation Ministries

“Here was a robust faith [in the case of this official]; therefore, Jesus made him the promise, so that we might learn from this man’s devotion; his faith was as yet imperfect, and he did not clearly realize that Jesus could effect the cure at a distance; thus, the Lord, by not agreeing to go down to the man’s house, wished us to learn the need to have faith”
St.John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) “Homily on St. John”, 35.

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire,
unuttered or expressed,
the motion of a hidden fire
that trembles in the breast.

Prayer is the burden of a sigh,
the falling of a tear,
the upward glancing of an eye,
when none but God is near.

Prayer is the simplest form of speech
that infant lips can try;
prayer the sublimest strains that reach
the Majesty on high.

Prayer is the Christian’s vital breath,
the Christian’s native air,
our watchword at the gates of death,
we enter heaven with prayer.
James Montgomery (1771-1854)

Teach us, good Lord,
to serve thee as thou deservest;
to give and not to count the cost;
to fight and not to heed the wounds;
to toil, and not to seek for rest;
to labour, and to ask for no reward,
save that of knowing that we do thy will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

St Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Today's readings and reflection

FIRST READING (1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13)  
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, seeing I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”

When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord s anointed is before him.” 

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 sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 

And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 

And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” 

And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.”  

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.

SECOND READING (Ephesians 5:8-14)  
Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”

GOSPEL  (John 9:1-41) 
As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 

Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. 

The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, “Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?” 

Some said, “It is he”; others said, “No, but he is like him.” 

He said, “I am the man.” 

They said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 

He answered, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so 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 clay and opened his eyes. The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 

Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” 

There was a division among them. 

So they again said to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” 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, 19 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 how he now sees we do not know, 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 feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to 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 said to him, “Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner.” 

He answered, “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I 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 too want to become his disciples?” 

And 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, “Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 

They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. 

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of man?” 

He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 

Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” 

He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshipped him. 

Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 

Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Jesus frees us from spiritual blindness and sin - Servants of the Word  

Three Causes of Spiritual Blindness - Sermons at St Nicholas

The Man Born Blind - Metropolitan Anthony Bloom 

FURTHERMORE . . . (by Fr Robin Gibbons)
Because of modern medicine and health-care many of us can rejoice that we have relatively good eyesight. Compared to generations before us, problems like cataracts, that in some countries are an unremitting problem for many without adequate access to good surgery, can, if provision is found, now be cured by a small routine operation! Yet we also have many whose condition makes it impossible to see in terms of visibility. For them the world becomes a different experience in which other types of ‘seeing’ take place, for sounds, touch, smell become the landscape and often it is a relationship with their seeing eye dog (guide dog), that is crucial. 

Those of us who take our eyes for granted, need to be reminded that we too need others to guide and help us see, because as Jesus reminds us through the story of the man born blind, the true sight of God is a great mixture of things. These words are always important: “But the Lord said to Samuel: Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into the heart. “(1 Samuel 16:7)

Time and time again Jesus takes us to this point, within, in what we call the ‘heart’ is where the great encounter and revelation of God happens to each of us, where we truly perceive things, unless of course we block it out, make ourselves inwardly blind through our own sinfulness. We can cast our minds back to the elderly Simeon, who seeing the Christ child recognised, not by outward appearance but through his inner sight, the promised one in his arms. To ‘see salvation’ is not something visible except in terms of an encounter in compassion and love with another.

This is precisely what we find in that moving story of the healing of the man born blind. In his meeting with Jesus something powerful happens, not only is new sight given him, but also the inner sight of a compassionate and truthful heart is opened. His dialogue with the Pharisees about Jesus shows that he has the grace of seeing salvation, but they, in their obstinate refusal to become open to the works of God outside their control, are the truly blind.

The young man said, ‘”I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him. Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”’ (John 9:38,39) The loving question the Lord asks us is simple, do we wish to be healed of our blindness, do we want to take the risk of seeing a little with the eyes of God? Do we wish to see salvation?

HYMN  (John Newton - all the verses)
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.