Sermon Notes by Fr.Eugene A. Thalman M.M for Homilists and Religion Teachers.    Embargo:  Catholics are welcome to read after Noon, Sunday

[Our Lady of Fatima is a Catholic parish of the Hong Kong diocese.  It is located on a one-square mile island.  The total population is over 30,000. About 50 Filipino Catholics attend the English/Tagalog Sunday Mass and about 120 Chinese Catholics attend the Chinese Mass.  The Church is also a center for pilgrimage. The pastor, Fr.Gene Thalman M.M., ordained 1960 is a Maryknoll missioner.  He enjoys sharing with you his weekly struggle to make the Word of God relevant to this particular community. [email protected].]




03/04/02      4th Sunday of Lent   (C) John 9:1-40

There is a lot of stuff in this book  [Hold up bible].  But fortunately all we have to remember about the bible are two words:  “Darkness” and “Light.”  Open your bibles to the first book of the Bible: Genesis 1.  Look at the first three versus.  They tells us what the whole bible is about:  “darkness and light.”
“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth [v. 1]
...darkness covered the abyss [v. 2] ...
Then God said,
‘Let there be light.’” [v. 3]



John didn’t want us to forget what the bible was about. So in the Book of Revelations, the last book of the bible, the very last chapter, John writes these words of Jesus: [Revelation: 22: 16.]


“It is I, Jesus who have sent my angel to give you this testimony about the churches.


‘I am …the Morning Star shining bright.’”


John describes how Jesus introduces a blind guy to daylight. [John and the early Christian community had twenty years to reflect on the events narrated in today’s gospel.  And I have only twelve minutes to deliver this passage --Ed]


The man born blind had never seen anything because he was blind from birth.  When I was resident in my mother’s womb, I don’t remember seeing much of anything. It didn’t bother me much because, like the blind man, all I ever knew during those first nine months was darkness.    I figured that was all there was.  I guess I did a lot of sleeping.  Anyway I don’t remember much about that time.  But it must have been boring—no smiling faces, no Mickey Mouse wearing a bright red shirt and no TV.   I didn’t worry much about it because I had never had seen anything but darkness.  Fortunately when I was born, I could see all sorts of interesting things and my whole life took a turn for the better.


But this fellow was blind from birth and when he was born and looked around, he couldn’t see anything.  It was very inconvenient to be blind: holes in the road, misplaced furniture, kitten puddles etc. He had to be careful in a unfamiliar places.  But then there was no need to travel since he couldn’t see anything when he got there. 


Jesus made some paste with mud and put it on the man’s eyes.  Suddenly he could see things!  He could walk all over without fear of bumping into trees or falling in sewers.  He was delighted. 



He was excitingly happy until he discovered that the gift of sight was a mixed blessing.  He could no longer beg. There wouldn’t be much compassion for an able-bodied beggar who had 20-20 vision.  So he would have to go hunting for a job as an unskilled laborer.  He would be expected to help support his aging parents. 


And there was bigger trouble ahead.  The Pharisees didn’t like Jesus.  They were looking for evidence. They wanted the cured man to say bad things about Jesus.  Instead he matter-of-factly reported his concrete experience: the feel of the wet mud on his eyes and being able to see the little children jumping around like monkeys and the color of his socks.  Things like that. 


The Pharisees threw the man out of the synagogue for reporting what Jesus did for him and refusing to agree that Jesus was a sinner.


I forgot to mention.  The man was still half blind.  He could see things.  But when he looked at Jesus, he just saw an ordinary man.  He wasn’t able to see who Jesus really was.  This time Jesus opened the Faith-eyes of the man.  He gradually began to “see” Jesus as the Messiah, “the Son Of Man.” and then the finale!  JESUS THE LORD!  The twice-cured man shouted:  “Lord, I believe.” And he “bowed down to worship him.”  Now the guy was cured of all his blindnesses—both physical and spiritual.


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this morning each of our catechumens could tell us how Jesus delivered each of them from darkness to light?  I am sure each of them has a story just as exciting.


But in today’s gospel there are lots more blind folks?  Who can guess who they are?  Look at verse 40.  The Pharisees were blind as bats in the blazing sun.  They were blind and didn’t know it.  They refused to let Jesus put mud in their eyes because they refused to admit that they were blind.  Jesus said:


“I came into this world to divide it, to make the sightless see and the seeing blind.”


The Pharisees knew Jesus was talking about them.


                        “You are not calling us blind, are you?”


So Jesus said:


“If you were blind there would be no sin in that.


‘But we see,’


you say, and your sin remains.”


I received a telegram last night. It was signed by:  St. John the Evangelist, the author of today’s gospel reading.   If you would like me to read it, stamp your feet! [Whether or not the response is affirmative, read the telegram anyway.]


.           “Dear Father Hoh,  When I wrote today’s gospel, I was speaking of the first century Pharisees of my day.  I wish to report: ‘Without exception, they have all died!’ Please direct your sermon to yourself and any other Pharisees you have at Our Lady of Fatima community. 




When we longtime Christians were baptized we were “children of the light” but perhaps over the years like the Pharisees we have developed cataracts.  Our vision has become foggy or even distorted.  We think we are following Jesus. Instead we are in darkness chasing shadows.


            But this year at the Easter Vigil at the baptism of our four catechumens, Jesus invites us to accompany them so that he can cure our blindness as well. We have to admit the possibility that we are Christian Pharisees and need healing.


The newly baptized  are willing to help us to rid ourselves of the cataracts.  We need to listen to the unique experiences of our newly baptized.  We need to hear how again and again how they traveled from darkness into the light.  They also want to hear our stories and how we continue to travel from darkness into the light.  It will mean that our long time Catholics must once again humbly sit in Catechism classes It will require us to sit with our newly baptized Christians to search once more for the Risen Lord hiding in the pages of our bibles.  From our experiences of following Jesus, we have much to offer them.  And their enthusiasm will insure that we do not develop cataracts—and gradually become know-it-all blind Pharisees. 


FINALE:   How many of our Catholics here this morning will:


A.     Joyfully welcome our newly baptized into Our Lady of Fatima community?

[Wait for hands to be raised.]


B.     Chat with them after Sunday Masses?

       [Wait for hands to be raised.]


C.     Invite them to small group gatherings to share with them your stories telling how Jesus cured and continues to cure your blindness?

[Wait for hands to be raised.   If no hands go up, sponsor a special “Spiritual Renewal Program for the Pharisees” in your parish, Father.]




03/04/02      4th Sunday of Lent   (C)  John 9:1-40


ONE WORD:  Blindness

(Other possibilities:  Pharisee-ism, responsibility of sighted. Don’t feel comfortable with my focus but hopefully it will fall together by Saturday.) 



TWO WORDS:  Curing blindness,


THEME: When they receive the gift of sight, the “children of light”  they don’t talk about religion what report what they saw.


TEXT:  “Be like children of light…” St Paul Ephesians 5:8-14


 “You are not calling us blind, are you?” (v. 40) Rather, it was to let God’s works show forth in him.” (v. 3)  (NAB)


DESIRED RESULT:   Father, as a result of  your excellent homily, I am going to

review my catechism and join a catechumen class.  I might feel foolish but so     what.




“Beginning with the Easter Triduum as it source of light, the new age of the Resurrection fills the whole liturgical year with its brilliance.”


[Emphasis added: et] Catechism of the Catholic Church, (Mission Hills: Benziger Publishing Co, 1994),  #1168, p. 303.





            Plato’s Cave:  Chained prisoners look into darkness of cave and see only shadows of world. . One man escapes and tries to tell the others about the shadow on the walls being trees, flowers and children dancing..  It is too good to be true. No one believes him so no one else tries to escape.


            Four blind men encountering their first elephant: rope-tail, a hose-nose, a tree-leg, a wall-body, tusk-sword etc.






“For John the miracles are always a sign of the glory and the power of God.  The writers of the other gospels had a different point of view.  They regarded the miracles as a demonstration of the compassion of Jesus.”  William Barclay, Gospel of John Volume II (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press,  1956),  p. 45.


 “It is when life hits us a terrible  blow that we can show the world how a Christian can live, and if need be, die.  Any kind of suffering is a God-given opportunity to demonstrate the glory of God in our own lives.”   Ibid, p. 46


 “…the reward of loyalty is a closer walk with Christ, and an increasing knowledge of the wonder of Christ.”  Ibid, p. 58


“...the more we know Jesus, the greater the wonder becomes; and that will be true, not only in time, but also in eternity.”  Ibid, p. 60.







John Chapter 5:1 – 10:42 is the theme Light and Darkness


            In chapter 9: 1 – 10:21: Jesus the Light of the World


                        Sixth Sign_ 9:1-42 : Jesus gives sight to blind man.


John is called the book of seven signs:  a “sign reveals the presence and action of God.”


 Teresa Okure, “John”,  William R. Farmer (Ed), International Bible Commentary  (Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1998),  p. 1464.



Chewing, Digesting and Practicing God’s Word

03/04/02      4th Sunday of Lent   (C)  John 9:1-40


nAME_________       Your favorite Pharisee_________     Grade_______


1.  List the five main people/groups in today’s reading?

            A. d_________   B. J___________  C. b___________  D. P_______ P______

2.      In what two ways was the main character blind?  A. _________  B. _______

3.      Because of his blinding what was he unable to see  A. _________    B. ______

4.      We are called from darkness to be c__________  of the l___________.

5.      On the first day of creation what did God create:  l_________

6.      (Optional)  Describe one of your blind spots?