It is the 4th Sunday of Lent, and I have completely failed at my Lenten practice. It’s actually worse than that. I failed to even choose a Lenten practice. I was busy on Ash Wednesday, reminding everyone else to repent and believe in the Gospel. I was too tired the next day, and by Friday of that week, I had forgotten all about choosing something to give up, to take up, or to give away. I even forgot about my fallback plan for Lent each year: I usually give up my snooze button. I usually try to give up those extra 20 minutes of sleep, those precious 20 minutes broken up into five-minute naps. I love those five-minute naps, that opportunity to keep my eyes closed just a little longer. It’s the opportunity to stay in the dark just a little longer and not have to turn on those blinding lights that force me to get up and get on with the day. With or without the snooze button, eventually, I have to open my eyes.
It wasn’t a snooze button or an alarm clock, or even a mother’s gentle voice that opened the eyes of the man born blind. It was mud. It was saliva and dirt mixed by the Lord Jesus and placed on his eyes that opened the eyes of the man born blind. Without even a request or even a warning, Jesus smeared mud on the eyes of the man born blind and told him to go and wash his face. That must have been quite a moment, as the mud fell off and light for the first time entered into his eyes. The man once blind washed his face in a pool of water. The first thing he would have ever seen was his own reflection in the pool of water. Christ gave him sight. Christ brought him light. Christ opened his eyes. Christ gave this man born blind the light of sight, the light of faith, and the light of glory, without even a request or a warning.
David was anointed king of Israel without even a request or a warning. At least it wasn’t mud. It was oil from the ram’s horn carried by the prophet Samuel. It must have been quite a moment for David. After all, he had been out in the fields tending the sheep. His older brothers left him out there to do the work. David arrived at home last and he was probably looking for his seat at the end of one side of the table, that seat where the youngest child usually sits. David got up that morning as the youngest son and a shepherd. On the day Samuel anointed him and the Spirit of the Living God rushed upon him, David fell asleep as a king who would be a father to his people.
The man born blind and David the King were anointed without even a request or a warning. Most of us, however, knew when the anointing with the Sacred Chrism, that olive oil perfumed with sweet-scented balsam, would be smeared upon our foreheads on the day of Confirmation. We were not surprised, we were prepared.
The eighty-nine young people of our parish who are preparing for Confirmation this fall, who were all here together last week, will not be surprised. They have been preparing. They will have both a request and a warning. The Bishop will ask them to renew the promises of your baptism. They will reject sin and profess their faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The whole Church throughout the world does this each Easter; they will do this again in October. The man born blind was anointed with only the disciples nearby, David in the midst of his brothers. On the day of their Confirmation, the Bishop will invite their family, their sponsors, their teachers, and the people of this parish to pray for you as the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and fortitude, the spirit of knowledge and piety, and the spirit of the fear of the Lord descends upon each of them. They will be anointed and sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Their eyes will be opened by the Spirit of the Living God who shines his light upon them.
And then, even brighter, the Spirit of the Living God will shine his light through them. They will be strengthened to live as a child of the light. They will bring the light of Christ to the darkness that roams through the halls of their schools. They will bring the light of Christ to the darkened and hardened hearts of those who are blinded by violence, racism, and prejudice. They will bring the light of Christ; we will bring the light of Christ and without a request and perhaps even without a warning, the whole world will open its eyes and see the light of Jesus Christ. Amen.