Opening Question: Have you ever played a game with your eyes closed? Or, have you ever played a game blindfolded? What was the game? What happened to you?
First Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14
Imagine living in the dark.
Sara loved to go camping with her father. This was their special time to be together. And it was a special time to get away, to travel to the mountains and breathe clean air.
While Sara had her favorite camping sites, her father liked to visit new areas. This weekend, her father took her to site in the heart of the forest. So far in the forest, in fact, they had to hike three miles from the parking places off a dirt road to get there. As Sara hiked behind her father, she was quiet, lost in her thoughts. She thought how heavy her pack was, how crazy this trip seemed, and how she would pick the next site. As she turned a bend in the path, she was suddenly struck how dark the forest was. She looked up to see the lush trees cover every bit of the sky. While she knew it was not close to sunset, the forest seemed to be bathed in dusk. It was a little scary.
As she turned another corner, she saw the camp site. More important, she saw the break in the trees and the sunlight stream upon the meadow in the opening. She marveled at the view of the mountains and the clear lake before her. All were bathed in warm sunlight. Sara stopped at the camp site, put her pack down, and stood there with her eyes closed, drinking in the light. Sunlight never seemed so good!
Given a choice, most of us would live in the light. We build our world around light. The natural light of the day. The electrical lights at night. Light gives us the way to see what's around us.
We have a light for our hearts. Someone to lead us through the dark times. His name is Jesus.
Bridging Question: Who shows you the way when you feel lost? How do they help you?
Gospel: John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38
As Jesus walked by, he saw a beggar who was born blind. Jesus spat on the ground, mixed the spit and dirt together to make mud, and rubbed the mud into the man's eyes. "Go wash your eyes in Siloam Pool," Jesus told him. The man left and washed the mud off. Now he could see!
Many people used to walk by the man as he begged. These people and the man's neighbors wondered, "Isn't this the man who used to sit and beg?" At this, there was an argument. "Yes, he's the man," some said. But others disagreed: "He just looks like the man."
Finally, the man answered, "I'm the beggar!"
Then, they brought the beggar to religious leaders called Pharisees. When the leaders found out Jesus made mud and healed the man on the Sabbath, they questioned him. "How did you get your sight back?" the Pharisees demanded.
"This man came by and put mud on my eyes. I washed it off," the beggar replied. "Now I can see."
"Well, God commanded us not to do any work on the Sabbath. This man broke God's Law when he cured you," some of the Pharisees stated. "So, this man cannot come from God!" But, other leaders disagreed. "But how can a man who breaks God's Law do such things?" they said. So, an argument broke out among the Pharisees. In the end, they asked the beggar, "What's your opinion of the man who healed you?"
"He's a prophet!" the man replied.
At this, the Pharisees got angry. "You've been evil ever since you were born! How dare you try to tell us what to think!" they shouted at the man. Then, they threw him out.
Jesus heard what happened to the beggar. When Jesus found the man, he asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
"Point him out, so I can believe in him," the beggar responded.
"You've already seen him," Jesus said. "That person is talking to you right now."
"I trust you, Lord!" the man said. Then, he bowed and worshiped Jesus.
"Come on, Jake" Joanne pleaded. "You just have to trust me!"
Trusting people can be a tall order. Trusting your sister can sometimes be impossible! Jake was wondering if this was one of those times. Joanne had blindfolded her younger brother and was leading him on a "Trust Walk," an activity she learned at school.
Joanne began with a bowl of cooked, cold spaghetti. "Feel the worms," Joanne coaxed Jake, as she led his hand into the bowl. "Do you want to eat some?" Jake recoiled in disgust.
Then, she took him to a bowl full of stewed tomatoes. "Put your hand in here," Joanne continued. "Doesn't it feel squishy?"
"What is it?" Jake said, with a sightly worried tone in his voice. Joanne didn't answer.
Then they went out to the backyard for another twenty minutes of "demonstrations." Finally, Joanne took the blindfold off and showed Jake all the ways she tricked her younger brother.
Jake had a lot of mixed feelings. Everything Joanne did was funny. But he still felt tricked and somehow betrayed by his sister. Above all, he felt glad to take the blindfold off. While it was on, he really wanted to see!
That night, Jake sat down with his father to watch the nightly news. On a segment about the homeless, the television showed an image of a blind man begging on a street corner. Jake felt for the blind man, especially after his sister played her game on him.
"I know what he would feel like if he could see," Jake said to his father.
"What's that?" his father responded.
"Freedom!" Jake said with quiet conviction. "You don't have to trust others to do things for you." Then Jake told his father what Joanne did to him that afternoon.
"Jake, don't you have to trust others for things you get?" his father asked suddenly.
Jake thought a moment. Then he shook his head slightly. "Yeah," he said in a quiet voice.
"If people have to see something for themselves," his father said, "they're really blind. Some people use their eyes all the time, but they can't really see what's going on. Their eyes can see, but their hearts can't."
"I see," Jake said as if the light went on in his head. "Trust is seeing with the heart."
His father smiled and shook his head in agreement.
Jesus healed a blind beggar. But many people didn't believe the beggar or trust him. Why? Because they didn't trust Jesus. And, because they couldn't see with their hearts. In the end, the beggar had no one, except Jesus. He could trust Jesus because he could see with his heart who Jesus really was.
Jesus calls us to see with our hearts and trust him.
Closing Question: Who do you trust to show you the way? How can Jesus help you to trust others?