Friday, March 31, 2017


By Deacon Jerry Franzen  Cathedral  March 26, 2017

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

Praised Be Jesus Christ.     R.    Now and Forever. 
Good Afternoon (Morning Evening)

A Gospel about the cure of a blind man,
light and darkness, sin from several angles,
anointing with mud and washing with water,
parents’ fear of being thrown out of their church,
a confrontation with the Pharisees.
Where do we start?  Where shall we focus?

Last Sunday we heard the story of Jesus with the woman at the well.
At the beginning, Jesus was referred to as just a Jew by the woman.
“How can you, a Jew, ask me a Samaritan woman for a drink?”
Later, after Jesus told the woman about the men in her life
she called him a prophet.
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.”
It was miraculous to her that Jesus knew about her past.
Many times prophets were also miracle workers.
Moses, the greatest of the Old Testament prophets,
was the instrument of several of God’s miracles:
the parting of the Red Sea,
water from the rock in last Sunday’s first reading,
his staff turned into a snake.
Still later, the woman wondered whether Jesus might be
the long-awaited Messiah for the Jewish people.
She said, “Could he possibly be the Christ?” (Greek for Messiah)
And at the end,
the Samaritans proclaimed Jesus as the Savior of the world.
From Jew, to Prophet/Miracle worker,
to the Messiah, the one anointed to free the Jews
from Roman oppression,
to Savior of the whole world.


Today’s gospel has a similar progression.
In the beginning, Jesus is referred to as the Jewish teacher.
“Rabbi, (Hebrew- Teacher) who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Later the man, cured of his blindness, was asked
to say something about Jesus.
He replied, “He is a prophet.”
It is not unusual that on the occasion of a miracle,
that Jesus would be identified as a prophet.

When the man’s parents were questioned about Jesus,
they refused to answer, because they were afraid
of being expelled from the synagogue
for acknowledging Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah,
the Savior of the Jews.
And again, near the end,
the man confessed his belief in Jesus as the Son of Man,
the Savior of the world.
A similar progression, Jewish teacher, Prophet/Miracle worker,    Messiah for the Jews, Savor of the world.

So , what’s the focus in all of this?
It’s the same focus we have every Sunday.
This week’s Gospel, last week’s Gospel, next week’s Gospel
about the raising of Lazarus from the dead,
every week’s Gospel,
they tell us just who Jesus is:
He is Teacher, Prophet/Miracle Worker, Messiah, Savior.
The readings from the Gospels are meant
to prompt us to consider whether we are ready
to bring Jesus more into our lives as did
the woman at the well and the Samaritans last week
the man born blind this week,
and Mary,Martha and their Jewish friends next week.       
These are the roles that Jesus seeks to play in each of your lives.

He is the our teacher, the source of the law, the commandments,
the teachings, the directions that we must follow.
Today we heard an example of Jesus, the teacher.
He explained that the man’s blindness was not a result of sin.
God does not punish sinners by causing them, or their children,
to suffer physical maladies.
And in the end, the man born blind,
inspired to become a follower of Jesus by his cure,
corrected the Pharisees  by proclaiming,
“If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
We also saw Jesus in this Gospel reading as prophet/miracle-worker.

And obviously the idea of Jesus being the Messiah was catching on,
as people were seriously concerned
about being expelled from the synagogue
for following Him.
And the cured man believed that Jesus was the Savior for all,
not just the Messiah, Savior of the Jews only.


So, what’s in this for us?
Jesus fulfills each of these same roles for each of us in every Mass,
if we are in tune with Him.
1. We hear the teachings of Jesus
in the Liturgy of the Word every Sunday.
We might ask: Do I come to Mass seeking the teachings
that govern how I should live my life?
Do we look to Jesus for the truth as we seek to interpret
natural law, church law and civil laws?
The Pharisees accused Jesus of not keeping the Sabbath holy.
We might ask:
Do I come to Mass in order to keep the Sabbath holy?
Am I here today and every weekend,
because this is what I must do to foster
a deeper relationship with God?
It’s so easy to just follow the crowd down the path of sin,
down the path of “I’ll come whenever I feel like I need it”,
or down the path of “I’ll come whenever
there is hope that I’ll get something out of it.”
Get something out of it?     We receive Jesus in this sacrament!
How can it get any better!!
2.  Is Jesus our prophet, the one who speaks to us for God,
and the one who brings miracles to our lives?
Miracles happen to each of us each day,
though we may not recognize them,
because they may not be the ones we are looking for.
Are we open to God’s miracles worked through others in our lives?
Jesus doesn’t spit on the ground
and make mud for our healing each Sunday.
He miraculously gives himself for each of us each Sunday.
Do we come here recognizing our own infirmities and
seeking the healing miracle of receiving Jesus
in Holy Communion?
Do we come here to learn how each of us
can be instruments for God’s miracles?
Each Sunday, in fact at each Mass, we have the miracle
of our Messiah being with us and available
to be received by us.

3. Do we come here to acclaim Jesus as our Messiah:
the one we go to in time of need,
the one who will release us from whatever it might be
that confines, oppresses or imprisons us?
We can each look back in our lives
and find experiences that have lead each of us to acknowledge
Jesus as the Christ, our Messiah.
Are we strong enough and excited enough to acknowledge this
even though it might lead
to our being shunned by someone or some group?

4.  And lastly, do we really believe that Jesus is the Son of Man,
the Savior for all?
He suffered died and rose from the dead for our sins,
the sins of the world.
What an act of love!!
How are we proclaiming this to all those around us?
We, like the Pharisees, say,
“Surely we are not also blind.”
I hope that we would all admit that we come to Mass every Sunday
because we want our eyes opened more and more
to  Jesus as our teacher, our prophet,
our Messiah and the Savior of the world.
This is the conviction and the enthusiasm for the Eucharist
that every one of us needs for our salvation.
AND it is this same enthusiasm and conviction for the Eucharist
that each of us must express
to any non-participating Catholics
that we might encounter
if we expect them to accept  our invitation
to come back to Mass and to the Faith.
This is exactly what will be needed for us to succeed
with the United Catholic Movement.
We cannot be like the Pharisees who saw all that Jesus did
and yet continued to find excuses and arguments 
to not be complete followers of  Jesus.