4th Sunday of Lent (Fr. Vinner)
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
This is the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Traditionally, this day is known as Laetare Sunday, from the Latin word for the command “rejoice,” the first word in the introductory antiphon for today’s Liturgy, (based on the words of Isaiah 66:10). The antiphon and the readings both express the Church’s joy in anticipation of the Resurrection. Today’s readings both remind us that it is God who gives us proper vision in body as well as in soul, and instructs us that we should be constantly on our guard against spiritual blindness. By describing the anointing of David as the second king of Israel, the first reading, from the book of Samuel, illustrates how blind we are in our judgments and how much we need God’s help. In the second reading, Paul reminds Christians of their new responsibility as children of light: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.”
Jesus’ giving of sight to a blind man, reported in today’s Gospel, teaches us the necessity of opening the eyes of the mind by faith and warns us that those who pretend to see the truth are often blind, while those who acknowledge their blindness are given clear vision. In this episode, the most unlikely person, namely the blind man, receives the light of faith in Jesus, while the religion-oriented, law-educated Pharisees remain spiritually blind. “There are none so blind, as those who will not see.” To live as a Christian is to see, to have clear vision about God, about ourselves and about others. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we are to live as children of the light, seeking what is good and right and true. Our Lenten prayers and sacrifices should serve to heal our blindness so that we can look into the hearts of others and love them as children of God, our own brothers and sisters.
Life messages: 1) We need to allow Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. We all have blind-spots — in our marriages, our parenting, our work habits, and our personalities. We often wish to remain in the dark, preferring darkness to light. It is even possible for the religious people in our day to be like the Pharisees: religious in worship, in frequenting the Sacraments, in prayer-life, in tithing, and in knowledge of the Bible – but blind to the poverty, injustice and pain around them. Let us remember, however, that Jesus wants to heal our blind-spots. We need to ask him to remove from us the root causes of our blindness, namely, self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits and hardness of heart. Let us pray with the Scottish Bible scholar William Barclay, “God our Father, help us see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly.”
2) We need to get rid of cultural blindness. Our culture also has blind-spots. Often it is blind to things like love, happiness, marriage, and true, committed sexual love in marriage. Our culture, our media, our movies and our values, are often blind as to what it means to love selflessly and sacrificially. Our culture, in spite of scientific proofs, is blind to the reality that life begins at the moment of conception, and it callously promotes abortion. We continue to advance destructive practices such as embryonic stem-cell research, homosexual “marriages,” euthanasia, and human cloning, and we refuse to see the consequences of godless behavior on human society. In the name of individual rights, the radical left in our society decries any public demonstration of religious beliefs and practices, or the public appearance of traditional values, questioning the substance of family values. The radical right, on the other hand, decries the immorality of our times, without lifting a finger to help the poor and the underprivileged and without ever questioning unjust foreign policies and wars. This cultural blindness can only be overcome as each one of us enters the living experience of having Jesus dwelling within us and within others, through personal prayer, meditative reading of the Bible and a genuine Sacramental life.
In his exhortation the Gospel of Joy, Pope Francis calls on us to help others see our joy in Jesus Christ. It is not enough for us to call ourselves Christians. We have to bring Jesus Christ to others. Just as Jesus healed a man who was blind, we must lead others out of darkness into the Light of Christ. Pope Francis summons us to share our joy and proclaim with our lives to those who are searching: I was lost, but now I am found. I was blind, but now I see.
What joy we have in Jesus Christ! Amazing Grace.
May God Bless you,
Fr. S.Vinner HGN.