Fourth Sunday of Lent 2017

Readings can be found here.

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“Why You Asking All Them Questions” by SpokenReasons on YouTube

As I was going through the readings for this week, I thought, “Gosh, everyone is assuming!” I don’t know if any of you guys remember that hilarious video from 2012 depicted in the gif to the right, but that was what came to my mind….and then I watched it because #nostalgia. But, seriously, the Pharisees, the disciples, and even the prophet Samuel are making some serious assumptions!

In the First Reading, we hear about God choosing David to be His chosen king for Israel. This story is pretty well known: Samuel goes to see a guy named Jesse because God told him that one of Jesse’s sons will be the king. So Jesse shows Samuel seven of his sons, who are all very handsome and impressive looking, and Samuel jumps the gun on especially the first son, but none of them are it. Plot twist, Jesse’s youngest and eighth son is tending to the animals, and, despite his relative stature, God hits the golden buzzer. Save God’s explanation on how He sees versus how man sees–it’ll come back up later.

Next, in this week’s Gospel, both the disciples and the Pharisees commit the complex question fallacy (also called “loaded questions”). A complex question is one where a controversial assumption is embedded into the question being asked, “controversial” here meaning “disputed” or “not previously established.” An example, to stick with Spoken Reason’s video, could be when the girlfriend asks, “You been where? With who?” The assumption embedded in the question is that the boyfriend went somewhere with someone. The dangers of committing the complex question fallacy is that they control the flow of the discussion towards the bias of whomever asked the question–in the prior example, a “yes” will lead down an accusation of cheating, which leads to a fight; on the other hand, a “no” will lead to a demand of proof and the boyfriend’s perceived violation of privacy, which also leads to a fight. Either way, guys, you’re screwed, so good luck. (The irony is that this example embeds its own assumption. Can you spot it?) Keeping in mind what complex questions are, let’s look at the examples within the Gospel.

First, the disciples’ question: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” The assumption here is that someone had to have sinned bad enough that God’s wrath was invoked to punish the blind man. Next, the Pharisees ask two complex questions: 1) “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?” and 2) “Surely we are not also blind, are we?” The former question embeds the assumption that the Pharisees were not born totally in sin, while the latter embeds the assumption that the Pharisees can see–the “surely” sells this, in addition to Jesus exposing the irony in their question. The disciples’ question pales in comparison with these two; at least we can take the disciples as curious. What is the problem with all of these questions? They seek to understand something else other than their own situation.

I think you all know it at this point, but I love me some St. Paul–he knows what he’s talking about. This week, he writes to the Ephesians about being children of God, or children of the light. Particularly the first sentence, “You were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord,” illustrates for me the juxtaposition between a child of light and our three readings, especially the Pharisees. What the Pharisees got wrong is that man, including themselves, actually is born in the totality of sin, making us blind. According to St. Paul here, it is through rejecting the works of darkness and trying to learn what is pleasing to God that we will attain the light of Christ. However, emphasis on “trying” because, being born in the totality of sin, we’re bound to mess up; therefore, the next part is exposing the dark to the surface whenever it creeps into our lives (Confession, anyone?).

Therefore, stop asking about someone else, stop making statements, and stop assuming. Start looking inwards, start exposing your darkness, and start trying to walk the path of God. Start seeing as God sees: Within the heart, specifically, your own. The Lord is our shepherd; there is nothing we should want but His Light. Therefore, “awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,” for “whoever follows me will have the light of life.” (Eph 5:14, Jn 8:12)

Originally posted on my Blogger on 3/25/2017.

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