From the Pastor

March 19, 2023

Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” I’m sure you recognize these lines as what many consider the greatest opening lines in any novel written in the English language. They are, of course, the first lines of Charles Dickens’ Masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities. The novel contrasted the insanity of the reign of Terror following the French Revolution with the magnanimity of those who reached out beyond their own concerns to care and love for others.

The people who heard or read the beautiful ninth chapter of the Gospel of John, today’s long Gospel of the Man Born Blind, knew that they were also experiencing the best of times and the worst of times. The Gospel of John was not completed until the end of the first century. By then, Peter and Paul, all of the other apostles, perhaps with the exception of John himself, had all been killed, many like Bartholomew tortured to death. Even the pagan historian Tacitus wrote that the Christians persecuted under Nero suffered so horribly that many Romans felt a deep compassion for them. And yet, through all the terrors the people who read John had experienced or expected, there was a deep joy that though they were following Christ to death they were also joining him in eternal life. Christians supported each other, cared for each other, and, above all, held onto their faith that, as the Gospel concludes in John 20:31 “these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” It was the worst of times, yet it was the best of times.

The subject of the today’s drama, the Man Born Blind, had experienced the worst of times and was continuing to experience them. He had been born blind. He had never seen his mother and father. There was nothing for him to do in the world except beg, which he did every day by the Pool of Siloam. Perhaps, his parents brought him there every day with the hope that he might make a little to help pay their bills. Or maybe his parents had put him out of the house once he reached a certain age. The man lived in a dark world. Then Jesus came and healed the man. He gave him sight. Now the man was attacked by the Pharisees for daring to say that this Jesus was a prophet. He was thrown out of the Temple, shunned by society. The man did not need the Temple any more. Nor did he need society. He had Jesus. As the drama progresses he grows in faith until at the end he worships Jesus. He was living in the best of times.

Throughout our lives we all struggle through times of darkness, grasping for light. When will the darkness be over? When will we see the light at the end of the tunnel? Well, we do not know our struggles will come to an end. But we do know this: we can already see the light. Perhaps we are caring for a loved one who is lingering on in a slow death. Or maybe we are going from one crisis to another and wondering if we will ever see light again. We will. We will because the light is there for us. That light is the light of the Lord. A few verses before today’s Gospel, in John 8:12 Jesus called out: “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

Jesus is not just setting the scene for the drama of the Man Born Blind. He is speaking directly to us, to you and to me. He is telling us to put our trust in Him, to rest in him, and to know that no matter what happens in this world, good or bad, positive or negative, we will always enjoy the Light of Life.

We pray today for all who are suffering. We pray that they and all of us can recognize that Jesus provides us with the Light to guide us through the worst of times to the best of times.

Fr. Steve