Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 11, 2018 – Year A Readings
Readings: 1 Sm 16:1B, 6-7, 1-13A / Ps 23 / Eph 5:8-14 / Jn 9:1-41
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
Good morning and welcome to Laetare Sunday. Laetare is Latin for YAY! Laetare means rejoice. It is good to see everyone here so bright-eyed, more or less. It’s almost as though everyone is missing an hour of sleep.
I want to see a show of hands. How many people have missals with them today? How many of you read the readings today before you came to Mass? Good job! Now some of you may be thinking, “Wait a minute – we just heard the wrong readings! Aren’t we in Year B?” You would be exactly right – we are in Year B. We are blessed in our parish that we have catechumens, individuals who have been preparing for an entire year to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. They will be baptized, confirmed, and they will receive the Holy Eucharist for the first time. Since we have catechumens, today we are celebrating the Second Scrutiny.
Every year during Lent, Churches that have catechumens celebrate the Three Scrutinies. The first was last week, the second is this week, and the third is next week. Whenever the Scrutinies are celebrated, the readings from Year A are used, because they are especially appropriate to what is going on in these people’s lives during this time.
I wasn’t baptized at the Easter Vigil, but I did join the Church during this time, so this time of year always seems like it is leading up to a birthday or something. It’s an exciting time, but it is also a time of reflection, because we are in Lent.
The Scrutinies are a time when you are supposed to scrutinize yourself, when you are preparing yourself for entry into the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation. But guess what, folks, we are in Lent; we are all supposed to be doing that. So we are to join the catechumens, to pray for them, and also to put ourselves in their place and try to prepare ourselves as they are preparing themselves.
The readings today are chosen because they are especially appropriate for what’s going on. First, the readings talk about blindness. Now in the gospels, when the story involves a person who is not named, it is quite helpful to put yourself in their place. It is quite helpful to read the gospel and reflect on it with you in the place of the unnamed person. It’s amazing how the gospel comes alive when you do that. So let’s assume for a minute that you were born blind and you could never see. Suddenly, Jesus opened your eyes.
In a very real way, that is what happens through the Sacraments of Initiation. Our spiritual eyes are opened. We don’t always keep them open; we have to work at that, but the grace that we receive through these sacraments is so that our spiritual eyes can be opened. They can be opened in three ways I’d like to share with you.
One is, too often with our eyes closed, we fail to see God around us. We fail to see God in the world. We fail to see God in the things we have. We fail to see God in the gifts we have been given, because everything we have comes from God. It’s not ours. We are stewards; it’s been placed in our care. From the world around us, to our talents, to our families, they all have their origins in God.
Second, we can also become blind to the face of Christ in others – the face of Christ in the poor, in the immigrant, the unemployed and the underemployed, and in the grieving. Every person we meet is an opportunity to experience Christ in them. But too often we become blind to that, and we fail to see the face of Christ.
Finally, we become blind to ourselves, and we realize that we should have said something different to that person – or maybe I should have listened rather than try to get rid of them. We become blind to ourselves, and the catechumens are scrutinizing their own lives in preparation for receiving the grace of the sacraments, so that their eyes can be opened and remain opened. We are all called to do the same thing.
There is another beautiful image that you may have noticed in the readings today. That is the image of light. You may have heard Pope Francis use a quote from Saint Ambrose. Saint Ambrose was the mentor of Saint Augustine and he wrote a hexameron, which is a reflection on the story of the six days of creation.
In that, he draws a beautiful analogy, which Pope Francis has used. He says, “The moon is in fact the Church. She shines not with her own light, but with the light of Christ.” The moon has no light of its own – the reason the moon has light is because of the sun. The Church is the same way. The only light that the Church has comes from Christ – the Son. We are all part of the Body of Christ; we are the Church. And we are called to the Sacraments to let the Light of Christ shine from us, to drive away darkness, to bring light where there is darkness. Saint Paul reminds us in the second reading, “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.”
So during this Lenten season, let’s work to spread the Light of Christ throughout the world.