One Monk of the Order of Saint Benedict

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The Word of God and the Body of God reveal each other -- the homily worships both.

March 02, 2008

For the Fourth Sunday of Lent

[It is not my turn to preach in the monastery today. Here is a homily of mine from years past.]

John 9:1-41
1 Samuel 16:1b,6-7,10-13a
Ephesians 5:8-14

Today we witnessed God sending the prophet Samuel to pour holy oil on the young man David.
This holy oil of anointing changed David, because “from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.”
The Spirit of God rushed upon David through a prophet pouring holy oil.
In his Gospel today, the Lord does something similar for a man born blind.
However, instead of anointing the blind man with holy oil, the Lord spits in the dirt, makes mud out of it, rubs it onto the blind man’s eyes and sends him to wash it off.
The blind man goes to wash, and two changes happen for him.
First change: he begins to see for the first time in his life.
Second change: faith and worship.
The Gospel tells us:
Jesus goes looking for the man who can now see.
He finds him and asks,
“Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
The man with newborn eyes answers,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus says to him,
“You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.”
The man says to Jesus,
“I do BELIEVE, Lord,”
and he throws himself down in WORSHIP at the feet of Jesus.

First change: a blind man begins to see.
Second change: he has faith in Jesus and he worships him.
The prophet Samuel anointed young David, changing him by pouring oil on him, and “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David.”
We see Jesus anoint a blind man with muddy spit and send him to wash.
When the man receives his sight, meets Jesus, believes in him and worships him, we know that the Spirit has rushed upon that man.
Like this man with new sight, if we believe in Christ the Son of God and are here now truly to humble ourselves in the worship of Christ and his Father, then their Holy Spirit has also now rushed upon us.
Our believing in Christ comes from the Spirit at work within us.
Honest worship of Christ also comes from the Spirit at work within us.
When our daily lives reflect faith in Christ, and when our daily lives give honor to Christ, it is because we have cooperated with the work of the Spirit that God has poured out upon us.
We heard today what St. Paul wrote about our passing from the blindness of sin into a life of light, faith and worship as the children of God.
Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

The power of God’s Spirit takes us out of the darkness of sin, and gives us birth in the light that shines on us from the Father’s eyes.
The Spirit of God rushed upon David though holy oil that a prophet poured on David.
The Spirit brought a blind man to sight, faith and worship through spit and mud that Jesus made and washing that Jesus ordered.
In the sacraments of baptismal washing, confirming oil of anointing and the Eucharistic Food and Drink, Jesus the Son of God comes to us and touches us.
In these sacraments, the Spirit rushes and works on us.
In these sacraments, God the Father gives us new birth as his children
The signs that all this has taken place are very simple:
our faith in the Father and the Son and the Spirit;

our worship of the Father and the Son and the Spirit.

We must work so that our daily lives show that we believe in God and honor him.
However, when we fail to live out our faith, and when our actions dishonor God, we have another sacrament that renews our faith and turns us around to face the light of God who forgives his children.
Remember: when Jesus first began to preach, he said, “REPENT... and believe in the Gospel!”
He did not just say, “Believe in the Gospel!”
He said, “REPENT... and believe in the Gospel!”
Repentance is the door of faith.
Repentance is the doorway for the Spirit who brings and strengthens faith.
When we confess our sins in the sacrament of Penance, we are letting Jesus smear mud on our sins and send us the Spirit in which God bathes his children.
If Jesus can use even spit and mud to bring sight, faith, and the Spirit to a blind man, then he can use spit and mud— OR EVEN A PRIEST— to bring the Spirit and to forgive sins.
We see such a commission on the day Jesus rose from the dead, when he breathed the Spirit onto the apostles and said to them:
Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.

Brothers and sisters, we must always repent of sin.
We must do penance.
We must receive the sacraments.
In this way, renewal and strength increase our faith that the Son of God is with us, that the Spirit of God is upon us, and that God the Father has already made us his children.
Believe in the Gospel!
Give glory to God!
We are about to receive not just a prophet, not just holy oil, not spit or mud or cleansing water.
We are about to receive God the Son in his own Flesh and Blood that cause the Spirit of God our Father to rush upon us.
Let us repent.
Let us believe.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

That God Be Glorified in All