4 Lent – Year A

1 Samuel 16:1-13; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

 “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” – Helen Keller


            What does it mean to see?  The literalist in each of us may want to limit sight to physical visual perception.  Or even worse we sometimes limit sight to our comfortable ways of thinking about our neighborhood and our world, limited to our little microcosm.  Since we extended sight beyond the physical we then justify ourselves saying we are insightful because we proudly proclaim that sight is more than the mere optical.  Aren’t we the bright ones?  Yet we may be blind to a whole world beyond our provincial experience, beyond our limited experience which is a small neighborhood and a tiny world.  Let us not fool ourselves.  The best and the brightest of us are subject to this malady.  The Pharisees in this Gospel story have bought into their self-bounded world hook, line and sinker, but have no vision.  How can we today possibly see the place where we have never been?  Native Americans go on a vision quest to see places and things they have never laid eyes on.  However, probably we are not about to go into the woods for a couple of fasting days.  But we can sit in a comfortable chair or on the floor if our joints allow for that.  Close our eyes and stop thinking.  Pay attention to our breathing and let go.  Just wait for new experience – not new thoughts.  Thoughts always have limits.  Do this for twenty minutes twice a day.  Gradually we will be in a place we never imagined.  This is not new age stuff.  Christian mystics have known this technique for centuries.  Consider Teresa of Avila or John of the Cross all the way up to Thomas Merton in the twentieth century.  This is sometimes called “centering prayer” or “contemplation.”  Buddhists call it “mindfulness practice” or “meditation.”  Just Google any of those words for more on this subject.  Lent is not a limited time for contemplative prayer for only a few weeks.  It can be a time to begin something that will last for a life time.  Jesus is saying that there is more to reality than we think.  Let’s shut our eyes to see.


            John’s Gospel, along with his three letters, are considered the simplest Greek in the New Testament.  Good Greek, but simple and elementary with limited vocabulary.  Now the Letter to the Hebrews!  There is sophisticated complicated Greek.  Not for beginners.


I open my eyes

and vision is but a smudge.

Eyes shut tight I see.