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Gospel Lectio Divina for The Fourth Sunday of Lent - March 19, 2023

Gospel Lectio Divina for The Fourth Sunday of Lent - March 19, 2023

By David Kilby

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.


JN 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth. He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, "Go wash in the Pool of Siloam" — which means Sent —. So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, "Isn't this the one who used to sit and beg?" Some said, "It is," but others said, "No, he just looks like him." He said, "I am."

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees. Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath. So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see. He said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see." So some of the Pharisees said,

"This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath." But others said, "How can a sinful man do such signs?" And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, "What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet."

They answered and said to him, "You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?" Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" He answered and said, "Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" Jesus said to him, "You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he." He said, "I do believe, Lord," and he worshiped him.


As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.

This means Jesus gave the blind man something he never had before, something he never knew of before: sight. I often think heaven must be like that. It’s something we’ve never had before, just as sight was something the blind man never had before Jesus gave it to him. We can’t possibly know what heaven is like. People say we get glimpses of it when we see something beautiful, or experience something good. We may get a taste of heaven when we meet someone who is striving for holiness, and their efforts shine for us as we relate to the common struggle. But in truth it is a constant struggle for any of us to see heaven in this life, and to help others see it. That is what we are called to do, however. Just as Jesus helped the blind man see, we are called to help others see heaven. Otherwise they may never see it, and may come to believe that it doesn’t exist.

What is more, the blind man never had sight, yet he knew of sight. He knew he was missing out on something. Heaven is the same way in this regard as well. When we don’t sense it, we at least sense that something is wrong. When we are deprived of experiencing good and beautiful things, when we are living in an environment where people are selfish and not charitable, it negatively affects us and we know something is not right. When our culture is deprived of good art, of powerful music, and especially of the Christian vision of the afterlife, we have much more difficulty seeing even the few glimpses of heaven we can catch this side of it. Then we look for things to replace it. We try to replace heaven with money, attention, success, and other things in this life that serve as poor substitutes. The more we pursue these substitutes for heaven, the harder it is to see our intended eternal end. 

Jesus’ healing miracles always have this anagogical dimension. He is always looking to show us where we are meant to be: in heaven with him for eternity. He uses the physical world, and the ailments it tragically imposes upon us, to remind us that this fallen world is not the way it is supposed to be and we were made for something much better.  

So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

In the same way, Jesus washed away our sins with his blood, and when our sins are washed away, we can more easily see God

"This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath."

I recently saw a Jewish billboard that said “Keep holy the Sabbath, Saturday.” This points to the fact that, since Christians celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday and Jews celebrate it on Saturday, the actual day is not as important as we may think. Christians celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday to commemorate the Resurrection. Jesus is demonstrating the same lesson by performing a miracle on the Sabbath. He is capturing the spirit of the law rather than the letter of it, while the Pharisees were examining the letter of the law and ignoring the spirit of it. The spirit of it is to do God’s will, and to imitate him every way we can. We cannot create a world in six days, but we can rest one day every seven days. 

Also, God wants us to set aside the Sabbath to rest and to worship him. These two themes for the Sabbath are related. He wants us to rest when we worship him, because in him–and only in him–do we have our rest. We give him the Sabbath, and God provides the rest. It would make no sense for Jesus to rest from being our provider, because he is not drained of energy by providing. He wasn’t really drained of energy after creating the world in six days either. He rested on the seventh day because he was finished, and because it is his nature to simply be, not to do. God can do nothing and he would still be God; everything would continue to go on the way it already does because God is being, and if he stopped being God then everything would stop being. His message to us for the Sabbath is to just be, just as he is, and to not worry about doing anything. 

Likewise, Jesus was not drained of any energy when he healed the blind man. In fact, one can even argue that it is Jesus’ nature–rather than his work–to heal, so he probably received fulfillment by healing others–in that he was doing the Father’s will and was fulfilled in doing so. Jesus couldn’t avoid being a healer when God’s will called for it, any more than he could avoid being the Son of God. So Jesus wasn’t working when he healed the blind man. He was just being who he is.

He said, "I do believe, Lord," and he worshiped him.

This blind man did not even ask to be healed, but Jesus healed him “so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” This healing miracle then led the blind man to believe in Christ. Understandably, many people do need a miracle to show them God’s omnipotence in order to believe in God. However, it is the grace of God that leads people to believe. When Jesus called the disciples, the grace of God  convinced them to leave their former life to follow them. God can use anything to communicate his truth to us. He can use art, the relationships in our lives, our desire to learn, or many other things. Everything can lead us to him, except sin. All we need is the will to find him and he will provide the grace, but if we do not want to find him he will respect our free will and remain hidden. 

Who knows where the blind man was in his personal search for God. Wherever he was, he was in the right place to receive God’s grace, because God knew that by being the recipient of this miracle he would come to believe in Jesus. 


Dear Lord, 

How many miracles have you performed in my life? Yet, I still struggle to believe. You haven’t broken your own laws of nature to perform the miracles I speak of, but you have done something even more miraculous: You have changed the hearts and minds of many people I know who said they would never believe in you, or never believe in the Catholic Faith. You answer my prayers, breaking the veil between heaven and earth. You perform miracles of many different varieties. Help me to see them so I can more effectively believe in you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.


The disciples had a very different idea of those who suffered from things like blindness and leprosy before Christ taught them to see these people the way God sees them. This is the blessing God provides when we listen to him: He provides a fresh perspective of the world, a life-giving, hopeful perspective. If we’re ever discouraged by the way people around us think, remember the way God thinks, the way Jesus taught, and listen to what he has to say. His countercultural way of seeing everything will encourage us, and help us to see how we–as Chistians–are different, and offer a very unique vision for this world and of the next. 

Kilby is a freelance writer from New Jersey and managing editor of Catholic World Report.  He received his undergrad degree in humanities and Catholic culture from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. In addition to working with the Knights of the Holy Eucharist (, he has served as a journalist for Princeton Packet Publications, and the Trenton Monitor, the magazine for the Diocese of Trenton. Some of his published work can also be found in St. Anthony Messenger, Catholic Herald (UK), and Catholic World Report. For the latter he is managing editor. Find more of his writing at

Next article Gospel Lectio Divina for The Third Sunday of Lent - March 12, 2023