Lent 4A’23
19 March 2023
I Sam.16.1-13; Ps 23
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone <+> 

“For the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward

appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” – I Samuel 16.

Since my wife is not present today but is on a much-needed Spring Break, I’d like to take just a moment or two to brag on her. She truly is a marvel in many ways. First, she was willing to marry me, she starred down breast cancer and won! Cancer free for over 12 years now! A great wife and mom, and as many of you know serves in the VA health system as an Optometrist at Ft. Roots. Not only does she provide standard eyecare, she also is a “low vision specialist.” There are many reasons that her veterans have trouble seeing, some have diabetes, or have had a stroke, or have lost vision due to a combat related injury. She serves them faithfully, helping to provide treatments that improve their vision or provides them with the tools and technology to make the most of the vision they have left.  Shannon is a tour de force, and a source of healing.

In our readings for today we see the trouble when we have trouble seeing. They reveal to us that there is more than one way to see and more than one way to be blind – both physical and spiritual blindness.

In today’s gospel we see Jesus, the Great Physician, bringing healing to a man that was born blind. He does this by making a poultice, with dirt and saliva, and he then anoints the man’s eyes with this and then gives him a prescription, sending him to go and wash his eyes in a particular pool of water near Jerusalem called Siloam – Siloam literally means “sent.” Jesus who was sent from God, sends the blind man to the waters to wash and as he obeys he is instantly healed of physical blindness.

On the heels of this great miracle we see the spectre of another kind of blindness – spiritual blindness. The pharisees show us the underbelly of organized religion where they get hung up by a couple of things, religious pedigree and the  law. First, Jesus wasn’t not properly trained (in other words trained by them) and second, Jesus made his poultice on the Sabbath Day, which meant that he had violated the sabbath by doing work.

Bono of the rock group, U2 described this unhealthy form of religion when he said, “religion is what happens when Jesus leaves the building.”

Rather than rejoicing with the healed man and his family, they reject Jesus and start an argument calling into question the man’s healing, denigrating the dubious source of an upstart rabbi from the sleepy hamlet of Nazareth, who dared to heal on the Sabbath day. Spiritual blindness blinds us to the miracles of life that are often standing right in front of us. The pharisees hold an angry meeting and then decide to have another go at the man and his family: “

So, for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man [Jesus] is a sinner.”   He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

For the man born blind, the proof was in the pudding, or shall I say, in the poultice, he was on cloud nine and was mystified as to why anyone, much less religious folk, were unable to rejoice with him! He not only had his physical sight restored but his spiritual vision as well – he could now clearly see God, those around him, and himself.

In our reading from the Old Testament we see a kind of blindness that causes us not to be able to see each other. Strangely the cause of blindness was due to family rules and roles. How strange that sometimes it’s those who are the closest to us that have the hardest time seeing us for who we really are.

King Saul, had failed in his calling to lead the people of Israel, and God desired to give his people a new king, from the house of Jesse. So, God alerts the prophet Samuel to God’s plans and he is sent to the House of Jesse to anoint the man of God’s choosing. Samuel shows up and lets it be known that God intends to select a new king from among his sons. Jesse had eight sons and one by one they are presented to the prophet who is listening ever so closely to the Spirit, and he keeps hearing “no, that’s not the right one.” These guys sure looked the part and had clout and standing in the family but each time they were rejected by the prophet. Samuel gets to the end of the line of sons and asks is this all of your sons? Jesse reluctantly says well yeah, my youngest son David, is out tending the sheep. To the surprise of everyone, Samuel asks them to bring David to him. He is the runt of the litter with a baby face and Samuel receives divine confirmation that this is the chosen one. On the cover of your bulletin there is a rendering of the moment when Samuel takes out a hollowed out horn filled with anointing oil, a blend of olive oil and aromatic spices and pours it one the head of David. Look at the faces of the brothers, some are aghast, some have looks of disgust and a couple of them can’t even bare to look – spiritual and physical blindness.

Of all of Jesse’s eight sons, God picks the youngest, with the least experience, the runt of the litter, who wasn’t even considered to be in the running, sent by his father to the fields to tend sheep. His family looking on his outward appearance saw him only as the runt, not even in the running, but when God looked upon him, he saw the future ruler of his people:

 “for the LORD does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward

appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” – I Samuel 16.


Let us pray:

Gracious and loving God, open our eyes to see your intimate presence in the world about us, that we may awaken and live in your light, and open the eyes of your Church, and guide us with the vision of Christ, that we may work the works of God while it is day, bringing your light and hope to the world. Amen.