Fourth Sunday of Lent
Where Along the Stream is the Shangri-la?
First Reading : ( 1Sam 16:1,
6-7,10-13): David was anointed King of Israel.
Second Reading: (Eph 5:8-14) : We must become children of light
Gospel : ( Jn 9:1-41) : Jesus cured a man born blind
“- The story of the people with goitre in Nan Qi”
-“Dimly an arching bridge arose, Veiled in moorland haze. On the west
bank, by the rock close, I asked a fisherman about the maze: “All day
long the peach petal flows on the stream that attracts my gaze. In which
place, as I come and doze, is found the Shangri-la that strays?”
In today's reading from the ninth Chapter of John's Gospel there is
an interesting account of a person born blind.
Once when Jesus and the disciples were passing along the road they
saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples in a somewhat
biased tone asked Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he would be born blind?" Jesus answered, ‘Neither
this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God's works
might be revealed in him. He then healed the man. Later
when people asked the blind man "How were your eyes opened?"
he answered, ‘The man called Jesus made
mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
Then I went and washed and received my sight.’ It happened
that the day was the Sabbath.
After the Pharisees knew about this, they concluded that the man who
had cured the blind man definitely could not have come from God, because
he did not keep the Sabbath. But on the contrary, other Pharisees asked,
"How can a sinful man perform such a remarkable sign?" And
they argued among themselves.
So they questioned the blind man again and he said he considered Jesus
to be a prophet. The Jews then looked for the parents of the former
blind man and questioned them. But his parents were afraid of the Jews
and did not dare to answer them but only said "We know that this
is our son, and that he was born blind, how he now sees, we do not know.
Ask him; he is of age."
So they again questioned the man born blind and said to him, "Give
glory to God! We know that that man is a sinner." Though he was
unlettered with little education he understood how to be sarcastic.
He answered, "Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; all I know
is that I was born blind and now I see." In the end the Jews still
did not believe in Jesus because they did not know from where he had
The blind man then gave a very reasonable answer, ‘Here
is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet
he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but
he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since
the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person
born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.’
When the Jews heard this they were very angry and said, "You were
born entirely in sin, and are you teaching us?" So they put him
After the blind man had been dismissed he met Jesus. Jesus signed and
said, “I came into this world for judgement
so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become
Some of the Pharisees who were with Jesus heard these words and said
"Are we also blind?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If
you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘we see’
your sin remains.’ (Ref Jn 9:1-41)
This story forces us to reflect. Are we blind? If we admit we are blind
we have a chance to see light; if we are self-centred of self-righteous,
we will not have the same opportunity.
There is a story called “The people with goitre in Nan Qi” which teaches
a lesson similar to the Biblical account of the man born blind.
Nan Qi was situated in a remote mountainous area of Xichuan. The mountain
water was very sweet. However, those who drank it developed goitre which
resulted in an enlarged neck. The people in Nan Qi all drank this water
so all of them had goitre. One day, a stranger arrived in Nan Qi. All
the villagers were amazed at the smallness of the stranger's neck. The
newcomer told the villagers that they were suffering from a disease
called goitre and they should see a doctor as soon as possible. However,
all the people in Nan Qi laughed at him and said, “All our necks are
like this. Why should we see a doctor? It is your neck which has the
The lesson of this story is that this group of people ‘never knew their
own disfigurement.’ That is to say, even to the very end they did not
know that they were sick or that they looked ugly.
We all live in a particular culture and have our own biases. We have
within us good and bad, right and wrong, the beautiful and ugly. If
we are willing to open our eyes and see our strengths and weaknesses,
we will be able to overcome what is of no use and to give up what is
bad, develop what is good. But if we keep our eyes closed, we will never
recognize our own ugliness.
Zhang Xu's poem “The Peach Blossom Valley” is an inspiring one: “Dimly
an arching bridge arose, Veiled in moorland haze. On the west bank,
by the rock close, I asked a fisherman about the maze: All day long
the peach petals flow on the stream that attracts my gaze. In which
place, as I come and doze, Is found the Shangri-la that strays?”(2)
When we looked, we saw a bridge far away. In the hazy
mist and fog we asked the fishermen in the boat where did the peach
petals floating in the stream come from? Where exactly was this peach
blossom valley? How can we find true blessings and the fountainhead
of life? How can we find the meaning of life? How can we find God?
We must open our eyes; we need to ask God to help us open our eyes.
The only way we can be saved is to acknowledge before God that we are
In fact, each one of us is blind; in the hearts of each one of us there
are many blind corners. Some we do not see, some we do not wish to see,
and some we have not the ability to see. Today let us ask God to open
our eyes so that we may see all those things that God wants us to see.