4th Sunday of Lent
March 30, 2014 – Year A
Readings: 1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a, Psalm 23, Eph 5:8-14, Jn 9:1-41
By Rev. Mr. Chris Barrett, Permanent Deacon, Resurrection Catholic Church
My dad was a nuclear physicist and kind of a mad scientist, in a good way. He was the kind of guy that if you asked him the time, he would tell you how a watch was made. I remember my nephew, Mac, was an elementary student in New York City and he called his grandfather to ask a question about a science project. We all listened in the background in pain for half an hour while grandpa gave this elementary school child a very lengthy answer to what I’m guessing was a fairly simple question.
I’m thinking about questions this morning because of that gospel we just heard. I like to count things, and I counted 17 questions in 39 verses. There were 17 questions between the disciples, the neighbors, the man born blind, the Jews, the Pharisees, and Jesus himself – a lot of questions. A couple of them stand out for me. The one the disciples asked: “Who sinned – this man or his parents – to cause him to be blind?” This shows the common, yet amazing, misunderstanding that sickness was caused by sin. And then the question that’s asked about Jesus: “How could a sinner – someone who did this on the Sabbath – be doing such signs?”
It’s a good thing for us, especially during Lent, to be asking questions about ourselves. We ask questions for information and insight. Sometimes we ask questions as a way of accusing, or getting ammunition, and we see a little bit of that in the Gospel story today. The two questions I just gave examples of are questions about other people and their sinfulness – minding other peoples’ business. It’s very hard not to do. After I wrote this homily yesterday, I ended up doing it, pointing out what I thought was a mistake to a very good friend. I thought, “Good golly, this is so easy to do; to not mind my own business.”
I’m thinking back to Ash Wednesday and Father Sal’s very memorable homily about Lent being a time to take a “selfie”, and how right that is. There’s a communal penance service here on Tuesday night and there’s one at Resurrection the following Tuesday. How odd it would be if we got in lines to go to Confession in pairs or in groups so that we could point out one another’s sins to the priest. We can’t imagine it, but that’s kind of what we do. Instead of doing selfies and doing self-examination, we spend our time and energy examining other people’s sins, or what we think might be sins or mistakes.
Lent is a time of enlightenment, especially this Fourth Sunday – Laetare Sunday – enlightening ourselves by asking questions. We have 2 unbaptized elect at Resurrection who will be baptized at Easter and they are going through the Scrutinies. When I told them about the fact that there’s going to be these 3 Sundays of Scrutinies, the wife asked, “We’re going to be scrutinized in front of all those people?” I said, “Yes, but relax, you’re scrutinizing yourself. You’re asking yourself questions about conversion. God is scrutinizing you; we’re not scrutinizing you. You’re scrutinizing yourself. We’re all scrutinizing ourselves; asking questions of ourselves.”
We had a wonderful Lenten retreat here beginning Thursday night and ending yesterday morning, and our leader, Deacon Darrell Wentworth, presented to us a lot of questions we might ask ourselves. My favorite was from the first night. “What is your earliest memory of yearning for God?” I ask myself that question. We ask ourselves good questions during Lent; questions like the ones we had on our retreat.
What am I doing to re-orient my life to God?
How am I being converted this Lent?
What is my faith?
What is the good that God is calling me to do in the world right now in my life?
What is the meaning of my life?
Why did God make me?
Great questions. I invite you today to pick a question to ask yourself on this Fourth Sunday of Lent to scrutinize yourself. Ask yourself a question, because what time is it? It is Lent. It is the time for selfies and for asking ourselves the good, hard questions so we might grow in the light.