Sunday, March 26, is the Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year A). Mass Readings: 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Psalm 23:1-6; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38
I tell my students in class how influential Pope John Paul II’s visit to Denver in 1993 was on Catholics in the United States. One of his themes from that visit is on display in today’s readings: “Become who you are!”
“Young people of America,” he said, “World Youth Day challenges you to be fully conscious of who you are as God’s dearly beloved sons and daughters.”
It was a theme with him all year, as when he told Jamaican children, “Your fundamental apostolic work in the Church is always to be who you are.” He explained: “The value of life lies in who you are, not in what you possess or in what you are able to do.”
Identity is a theme that runs throughout today’s Gospel. Presented with a man born blind, Jesus’ disciples want to define him by his handicap and attribute it to sin. No, says Jesus. His sin is not his identity. Rather, he is defined by “the works God” he wants to “make visible through him.”
Jesus’ identity is also at stake: The man born blind is ready to identify with Christ even before knowing who Christ is. When Jesus asks him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He replies, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
When he knows, he worships. He has found not just who Jesus is, but who he, himself, is. Only when he recognizes that Jesus is God does the man really know himself — and fully see. Once he is touched by Jesus’ light, he is a new man.
Truly, as the first reading puts it, “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart.”
We all find ourselves in this situation. As the second reading from the Letter to the Ephesians, says:
“Brothers and sisters: You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”
Jesus tells us what St. John Paul II will say: Become who you are — not the child of sin, not the child of darkness, but the child of light — the one God made to see.
Tom Hoopes is writer in residence
at Benedictine College
in Atchison, Kansas.
He is the author of