The Word in Peace, Fourth Sunday of Lent: Seeing makes me blind

1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Psalm 23:1-6; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

“I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.” – John 9:39

One of my go-to movies when I need a tear-jerker is A Family Thing, a 1996 tale in which Robert Duvall plays Earl Pilcher, an Arkansas good ole’ boy whose mother pens a deathbed confessional letter telling him that she is not his real mother. What’s more, Earl learns that biological mother, Willa Mae, who died giving birth to him, was black, and he also has a black half-brother in Chicago. Earl reluctantly travels to meet that brother, Ray Murdock, played by James Earl Jones. Embittered by the loss of his mother so many years before, on top of being a black man who had escaped from the segregated South, Ray is not too thrilled about the news, nor is he willing to have a relationship with Earl.

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Aunt T.

Irma P. Hall provides the prophetic voice in this film as Aunt T., a feisty old blind woman who is the sister of Earl and Ray’s mother. As Ray and his son Virgil want nothing more than to send Earl back to Arkansas, Aunt T. pointedly insists that both men accept Earl into the family, skin color be damned. Before her climactic recollection of Earl’s birth, Aunt T. takes on racism with a simple yet memorable line:

“I don’t know how he look, I can’t see him like you can, and I don’t need to. I don’t have the blessing of being able to separate people by looking at them any more.”

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