Sunday, March 22, 2020


From A Catholic Moment here is the reflection for today's readings. God Bless!

The readings of last sunday reveal how water symbolically served as the element of salvation, and today, the 4th Sunday of Lent, traditionally known as “Laetare Sunday,” (which invites us to rejoice) we are presented with light as another symbolic element that points to our salvation. This is not just light but Christ himself, the Light of the world who has come to restore the sight of those who are walking in darkness.

FIRST READING: 1 Samuel 16 :1.6-7.10-13
After the death of Joshua, the people of Israel had another phase of history under the leadership of the judges (men of integrity who played roles as military leaders before the period of monarchy) thus having Othniel as the first judge (Jgs. 3:7-11). Samuel (the last of the judges) within the years of his leadership succeeded in forming a confederation among the twelve tribes. But despite his leadership capacity and the interventions of Yahweh in the defence of the people against external forces, they rather preferred to be like the pagan nations who they judged to enjoy kings and political security. Their request to have their own king got Samuel disappointed, and Yahweh felt rejected by the people He loved. Finally, He granted them Saul as their first king (1030 BC). Though successful in many battles, Saul offended God, and the kingship was taken from him.  It is Yahweh’s rejection of Saul that opens the page of the first reading of today. Prompted by Yahweh, Samuel left for Bethlehem to anoint the next king according the heart of Yahweh.
The description of God’s choice of David over his brothers is a tale of human blindness and their inability to see spiritual truth as God sees it. Divine wisdom searches the soul, knowing every thoughts of the mind and those who will live as children of the Light. Samuel almost lost sight of this Light. But Yahweh did not hesitate to remind him that His vision goes deeper than outward appearances. Hence, David who was the least among his brothers and “the almost forgotten in the choice of his father” became the greatest in the list of God whose criterion of judgement is the heart and not the physique. The Spirit that seized David was a mark of God’s presence in him and a pledge of success in his future mission as king over his people.

SECOND READING: Ephesians 5:8-14
From his Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul tries to make a contrast between the time before baptism and that of after baptism as a movement from darkness into the fulness of light in Christ. He tells the Ephesians that formally they were in darkness but thanks to the ritual bath they now have the light of the Lord. He insists that once exposed to this light, they must avoid the deeds of darkness that doesn’t allow the ‘seeds of light’ grow and produce. Thus they must bear the ‘fruit of light’ that is found in all that is good, right and true. Like the Ephesians, our sharing in the light-life of Christ must be reflected in the way we live. There should be no dark corners in our lives. No hypocritical style of living. We are children of the Light and that we must allow to shine in the darkness that surrounds the world around us. But not enough. We also have the obligation to expose the works of darkness. It is a light that must be set in action, that is why St. Paul calls us to wake up from slumber in order to have the fulness of Christ’s light.

GOSPEL: John 9:1-41
The Gospel places us in a time and context whereby physical impairments (and others) such as blindness were considered as a consequence of spiritual or moral deviance, thus generating social and religious segregation. The physical healing of the blind man and eventually his coming into faith is a clear expression of the essence of miracle that is, its interconnection with salvation. It is one of the Gospels carefully selected and read in the early Church during the rite of christian initiation at Easter vigil.
1. Unlike many other passages whereby the sick persons themselves or friends, family members or even masters in the case of servants approached Jesus for healing, but the healing of this man was exclusively the initiative of Jesus. This simply underlines the boundless nature of God’s love who intervenes in the life of his people even when they do not merit it.

2. It was on a Sabbath. This is another strong effort from the evangelist to affirm the divinity of Christ. It is only God who is not a subject to any law because He is the owner of the universe and all that it contains. It equally shows the providential character of God who beats time, day and place to make sure that he provides for his people.

3. The gesture of healing with spittle and sand: In the ancient world, saliva (which contains anti-bacteria) was held strongly to have a healing property especially in ophthalmic (connected with the eye) and skin conditions. By the use of this gesture, Jesus simply tells the man, “I give you that which is part of me.” Not only that. Jesus equally broke the social barrier that might have existed between this man and others as a result of his condition through the symbolic act.

1. The first category is the sick man. Situations of suffering especially the ones that have social consequences can generate desperation and make one to settle for any type of solution, but that is not the case here. The gradual unfolding of his story shows that he has a faith-filled disposition for healing. Without knowing Jesus, yet he trusted in the voice that told him to go and wash in the pool of siloam. And did something extra: he did not just go to wash. He equally came back. It is a sign of a new journey of discovery and search for intimacy with Jesus. This is evidenced in his gradual formulation of a credo:
“The man called Jesus told me…” (v.11)
“He is a prophet” (v.17)
He is from God (v.33)
He said, “Lord, I believe”, and worshipped Him (v.38). And as a sign of a new life in Jesus, he stood his ground and defended Him before the Pharisees (v. 27-33) even to the point of being expelled from the synagogue (v.34).

2. The second category of persons:
a) The disciples of Jesus: ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?’ By this question, John the author of this Gospel and part of this group by this indicates that although they had been with Jesus for quite a long time but they were yet to log into his mind. In other words, they were still sharing some erroneous beliefs of the people of their time. Hence, they too need conversion.

b) The neighbours to the sick man: When these saw that he has received his sight, they expressed doubt. They were filled with awe, but not an awe led by faith but an awe led by prejudice. They refused to see him beyond the blind man that they were used to. For this, they remained indifferent and settled with ‘he looks like him’ syndrome. Hence, they are true image of those who do not welcome change in the life of others.

c) The Pharisees: The Pharisees bluntly refused to accept the miracle even when the confirmed from the parents that the man was born blind for two reasons: a) Because of their pride and hatred for Jesus so as not to give him credit. That is why even all attempts to disprove it failed, they told the man, ‘Give glory to God! But as for this man, he is a sinner’ (v.24): b). the second reason is linked to their blind interpretation of the Law. They have always subjected God to the sabbath rest which is a literary understanding of God who rested on the seventh day () forgetting that God who created the universe cannot stop governing the universe, and that He is free to do whatever He likes and whenever He likes which the evangelist affirmed in the person of Jesus as God. Thus, the presence of and their attitude in this narrative is an attempt by the evangelist to point out another type of blindness more serious than that of the sick man (they were spiritually blind).

d) The parents of the sick man: although they acknowledged that their son was born blind, but they were unable to stand their ground to openly profess their faith in the source of his healing knowing that it came from Jesus. They rather played a game of pushing the response to their son on the ground that he is an adult. They did this because of an ulterior motive of maintaining their place in the synagogue. Thus, they represent a set of persons who are much concerned with their position than the truth, and those who prefer to bow to religious leaders but in truth do not have fear of God in them.

Our culture has become so anesthetized to violence, encourage perverse sexual orientation in the name of freedom, advance the science of destructive practices such as embryonic stem-cell research, justifies homosexual “marriages,” and defends euthanasia as human right. What more can we say about cultural blindness? We live a culture that enjoys false media, normalize immorality and all forms of perversion that destroy the faith. We need the healing of Jesus.

It was obvious that many of those who surrounded the blind man healed by Jesus were indifferent. They preferred that he remain a blind begger and dependent on their mercy. It was a difficult thing for them to rejoice that the fellow was saved from a pain he had had to live with right from birth. We often find it difficult to appreciate the good things that come to others, and we are good at passing judgement and quick interpretations over them. Indifference is form of blindness, and the root causes of this blindness are, self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits and hardness of heart. 

“Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”  This is one of the soul moving hymns that has survived the test of time maybe because it is a life changing narrative of a man saved from the darkness of sin, John Newton.
There is something in each one of us that needs healing. We cannot pretend to be totally fine. Therefore I invite those who wish to hear Jesus say, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” to be free with the Spirit as the amazing grace of God flows once again:
“Through many dangers, tools and snares,
I have already come;
This grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.”

Be close to us your people o Lord, for we count as nothing without you. Let your light shine in our lives for a total miraculous restoration. Amen.


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