I’m not sure if they used the really long reading from John at your parish today, but they did at mine! It seemed to me that the theme of the readings focused on truth and sacrament via light and matter.
As we approach Easter this year, I begin to recall past memories of the Easter vigil mass, the evening before Easter Sunday. It begins with a darkened church, the lighting of the Easter candle, and the spreading of light through the church. The deacon or priest will carry the burning Easter candle and proclaim: “Lumen Christi!” – the Light of Christ! Light and fire are symbols of the Christ and the Holy Spirit. While light resonates truth (and Christ who is truth), flame symbolizes the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
St. Paul teaches in today’s reading that: “everything exposed by the light becomes visible,for everything that becomes visible is light.” Through our eyes comes the truth of things around us; without light we cannot find truth – we lose our way. Sins are dark and are done in darkness. So many try to keep their sins hidden from others and reject Confession when they need so badly to bring their sins to Christ and receive the transforming power of the Holy Spirit through grace. We must let the doctor see our wounds so that we may be healed. Sins are not only done in darkness – they are in themselves darkness. Just as truth comes through light, lies fill the darkness. In sin, we reject truth for the lies of the world, the devil, and the flesh. Moreover, we become addicts to the lie we tell ourselves, blinding ourselves in the darkness. In the light, we become light - we are fully conformed to Jesus Christ who IS TRUTH! Through truth, we follow the command of Elrond in the Lord of the Rings: "Become who you were born to be!"
In the Gospel, Jesus comes to free us, healing us of the blindness. But how does he do this? Through a proto-sacrament. After speaking to a blind man, Jesus spits on to the ground and takes up the wet clay, rubs it in the man’s eyes, and has him wash it out in the public Pool of Siloam. After this, the man can see and comes to faith in Jesus – and then worships Him. The imagery here is very sacramental. Jesus uses matter in his work to bring this man to faith. Particularly, it resonates of baptism, through which we can enter into the proper corporate worship of God at the Mass.
Confirmation is also prefigured in the anointing of David with oil in the first reading. Christ (which means “anointed”) will likewise be anointed by the Holy Spirit in his baptism by John - which echoes the anointing of the Kings of Israel. In our baptism and confirmation, we too share in this anointing as priests, prophets, and kings in Christ. Like Christ, we are called to prophetically proclaim the Gospel to all we meet and to serve (as kings ought) those in need. Lastly, as priests, we are called to share in the sacrificial sufferings of Christ, offering ourselves as a living sacrifice to the Father.
It’s a big job. Thank God for grace, truth, and the sacraments through which they come!