I would like to give a special thanks to those volunteers who fixed a leak in the rectory roof, cleared the last snow fall and are in the process of fixing the lights in the gym and around the convent. This certainly saved us a ton of money. Now if only we can get those geese to go back to Canada! Thanks also to the town’s people who removed the deer that was killed in front of our Route 9 entrance. There were so many people who made Fr. Ho Lung’s parish mission a great success. Thanks for that and maybe we will see each other on EWTN. I hope they cut my dancing!
King Saul was disobedient to God and God took the Holy Spirit from him. In some ways this can be viewed as what happens when we commit mortal sin. God has to get out of us (we loose sanctifying grace) because, as temples of the Holy Spirit, God cannot live in sin. Samuel was sent in secret by God to anoint a new king to replace Saul. If Saul, who was a very jealous man, knew about this, he would have killed Samuel and the new king. Without God, our behavior and thinking can lead us to very unnatural actions. Who would have thought ten years ago about homosexual marriages? We used to give human beings civil rights, but now that has been extended to behaviors – some of which are forbidden by God.
Saul was directed by God to perform a ban on his Amalekite enemies. A ban was a total annihilation of people and property. Instead, in what seemed like a compassionate move, Saul spares the life of the Amalekite king, Agag. Today we can reflect on the damages of false compassion. We can feel for all those soft- eyed dogs locked up in animal shelters, but we seem to have no feelings for the unseen child in the womb. Saul also let his soldiers share the spoils because he feared a rebellion. How many times have politicians feared losing the favor of the lobbyists and chose to work against the common good and the commandments of God?
Samuel, arriving at Jesse’s home, makes a quick judgement. Eliab is an impressive young man and he concludes that he must be the future king. He soon learns that God’s ways are not our ways. God does not judge by appearance, but rather by the soul. In fact God is looking for a man after His own heart, who will do His will. God sees these qualities in David, the future shepherd-king – a precursor to Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Many older politicians campaign with pictures taken years ago because many voters choose their candidates on the basis of their looks and they never consider what is in their souls. Samuel finally anoints the least candidate, David, and immediately the Spirit of God rushes upon Him. David becomes the gold standard for what the Messiah is expected to be.
In the Gospel Jesus had just declared that “Before Abraham ever was, I AM.” The capital I AM is how God expressed Himself at the burning bush so Jesus is declaring His divinity. With this the leaders of the Jews wanted to stone Him since they could not see how it is possible for God to become a human being. Now He goes up to Jerusalem for the feast of Booths. The Jews are now plotting to kill Jesus. They are trying to find fault with Him.
To understand this Gospel passage, there are two very important themes in the background, suffering and light. The light is representing seeing the things we call in the Creed invisible. This is a gradual process as we shall soon see. Suffering is used by God to bring the best out of us by joining us to the death of Christ so that we can rise with Him on the Last Day. This is a gradual process if we keep to God’s commandments as we endure our crosses.
Jesus takes an unlikely candidate to show His glory, a man born blind. Many Jews believed that personal afflictions were due to the sins of one’s parents or their own personal sins. Jesus does not deny this, because there is a bit of truth to this, especially in most cases of contracting things like the HIV infection, but in this passage, Jesus is also showing us it is not necessarily so. Jesus states that this man was not blind because of sin. After all, who would know better than the Son of God?
Jesus proceeds to cure the man with an ancient and ordinary remedy – saliva. Saliva represents the Sacraments. Sacraments are visible signs that give an invisible grace where the Holy Spirit rushes upon us. In a
way this cure can be seen as an anointing like David’s and even our own Baptism or Confirmation. Then Jesus sends the man to the pool of Siloam to wash just like when Elisha (2 Kg 5:10-14) sent Naaman to bathe seven times in the Jordan. Being obedient to Jesus, even if reluctantly at times, brings forth not only, but not always, a visible grace, but most importantly always an invisible grace. This is often described as light.
In the process of his interrogation, the blind man has not only recovered his sight, he has also become illuminated in the most important way – spiritually. He first sees Jesus as a good man, then a prophet and finally as God. Seeing Jesus for the first time, he bows down and worships Him.
Evil people generally see good as evil. This man, who is accused of being a sinner, was also cured on the Sabbath by the man whom they wanted to kill. Eventually the man is thrown out of the Temple. He becomes blessed because he is persecuted for his belief in Jesus. The blind man, like Jesus, is another man accused of sin that he did not commit, and like Jesus he can be glad and rejoice, for his reward in heaven is great! The blind man never denies Christ, like Peter, and he never tries to preserve the status quo, like his parents. He stands and suffers for Truth.
Jesus asks him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He says, “Who is He that I may believe in Him?” Now the man’s eyes are opened to heaven by this act of faith and he sees “Christ our light!” St. Paul urges us all to leave the darkness of the night and awake from the dead and Christ will be our light at the Second Coming