NIGHT IS COMING WHEN NO ONE CAN WORK
4th Sunday of Lent (A)
April 3, 2011
This Sunday is a reality check for all of us. "Night is coming when no one can work." The Lord Himself recognizes it ... the reality of what Christian authors now call the "eclipse of God" in our times and days. I write at a time when the growing realization that the country I was born and grew up in and spent most of life in is fast experiencing the onslaught of the night that the Lord speaks of - the growing specter of the eclipse of God in culture, in politics, in the world of entertainment, and in all aspects of our societal lives.
Nowhere is this clearer as in the heated debacle that repeatedly ensues with regard to the reproductive health bill. Both sides condemn one another of disinformation. Both sides accuse one another of misleading the people. But without reducing this reflection to an apologia of sorts for the Church that I love, I would like to suggest to my readers that the whole issue does not have to do with who is misleading whom, but on the issue of who should be obeyed when it comes to something that does not just touch on mere economic matters.
Human nature being what it is, complex, and where one aspect of human existence overlaps and intertwines with other aspects, and where there is a hierarchy of values that is appropriate to the composite nature of man, body and soul, earthly and heavenly, with two feet planted on the ground, but called to a spiritual life, the reproductive health bill cannot be taken simply as a clear-cut solution to the massive problem of poverty and what proponents always love to quote as overpopulation.
Night is falling in the value systems of people. The eclipse of God happens when the forces of the good cannot anymore work unhampered and untrammeled because the traditional foundations on which to base legislation has been eroded by materialism, hedonism, and the spirit of unbridled restlessness among postmodern people. The moral theologian Elaine Robinson speaks of this creeping "nightfall" as the landscape of our lives now fast being characterized by the sweeping and pervading "contours of hopelessness."
Night is falling ... Many years ago, a movie called "Wait Until Dark" thrilled audiences and kept them at the edge of their seats all over the world. A murderer on the loose was about to do a blind woman in who was "witness" to some crime, inside her apartment. Sensing that danger was just around the corner, she did what she thought would give her advantage over the predator - break and disable all the lights in her apartment and plunge it to total darkness. As a woman born blind, she knew she would have all the advantage over the killer who had the use of both eyes, rendered useless, of course, in total darkness. Without the need to inform my readers how it all unfolded, suffice it to say, that the story does resonate with the story of the man born blind that the gospel of today speaks of.
When night falls, ironically, it is those who have been blind all their lives who have an edge over those who always had the use of their eyes. The blind are in their best element in total darkness. They can rely on other senses to guide them despite the total blackout.
This, the gospel also portrays. And beyond merely being more capable of sensing and feeling in the dark, the gospel passage tells us that, what the wise men and the pharisees could not see, the blind actually saw clearly and stated clearly. "He is a prophet," says the blind man.
But as the old song goes, "there is none so blind as he who would not see." The Pharisees kept on asking the blind man the same question, "What did he do to you?" But they were not paying attention to his answers. His answer was as consistent as the repetitive questions of people who really did not want the answer.
Night has fallen all over the land in many ways. Mainstream media has effectively silenced the voice of the teaching Church. During last week's rally for life, the same media practically ignored the many rallies that took place all over the country, including the big one at the Luneta. But they have given maximum coverage to the rallies organized by the opposing camp, even if only a few hundreds staged them at any given time.
Night has fallen all over the land ... Church workers and ministers are effectively limited in their teaching because a few loudmouths have hijacked the official teaching with their hemming and hawing and compromising. And when night comes, we cannot work unhampered.
The Gospel story speaks of just one man born blind and a horde of Pharisees and leaders who swooped down on him and bore down on him with the full force of their untrammeled powers to see. But as night fell, that one blind man turned the tables on those who would not see. In his sightless sensing and simple reasoning, he had stood his ground and proclaimed his growing realization that the man who cured him was a "prophet."
I speak directly now to ministers like me who may feel unable to do their work unhampered on account of the night that has fallen all over the land. I speak to those who, like me, may perhaps experience some discouragement ... ministers like me who may feel overwhelmed by the need to enlighten and teach people who have lost the ability to listen with prudence, see with the clarity of faith, and attach themselves to a teaching Church with hope, and to the Lord with love.
I speak directly to those who like me, may feel so down and out that our interlocutors in the arena of performative faith no longer see or are unwilling to see the bigger picture, the greater good of humanity in general, and the spiritual values that stand behind the Church's stiff opposition to the proposed legislation.
Night is falling, and we are reduced to being considered blind and useless. But it is precisely at this time, when we are most disempowered, when we are most disenfranchised by mainstream media, that the power and poise of the man born blind becomes an outstanding example for us who still have the gift of sight.
We should learn a lesson or two from him. Surrounded by the darkness of disbelief and flat refusal to even give the Lord the benefit of the doubt, the blind man was at his best element. He thrived in darkness. He went beyond darkness, and declared what he saw with the eyes of his faith ... He is a prophet!