My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today, this fourth Sunday of Lent is called “Laetare Sunday” — the Sunday of joy, the Sunday of rejoicing!
Because we are half-way in our Lenten journey towards Easter, so today are looking forward to the joy of the Resurrection.
In the journey of Jesus, as we know, the suffering of his Cross leads to the joy of his Resurrection. And this is also true in the journey of our lives.
We all have difficulties and sufferings that we face in our lives. We see tragedy in different parts of the world. We had that earthquake just a couple of days ago, and there are some people that are suffering as a consequence of that. The Malaysian airplane that was lost, and the loss of lives probably. We had a tragedy in the state of Washington and so many other things that are happening all over the world. And then in our own personal lives we also see that sometimes we go through difficult times.
So what we do during Lent, those small sacrifices, our effort to have a conversion during this time — fasting, penance, giving up things, making sacrifices — is basically sharing in our own small way in the sufferings of Christ.
But the sacrifices of Lent and the reality of suffering in the world should not make us sad. In fact, we understand that this is part of our own Christian life, and especially in the sufferings Christ, we should be happy. And that’s what this Sunday is all about. We should be joyful because we know that Jesus loves us. We know he loves us so much that he is willing to go to the Cross for us, so that we can know his Resurrection.
So Lent is a beautiful liturgical season. It is really a time of grace for us where we reflect on the love of Jesus and when we try to make ourselves stronger in our self-denial and self-giving by our sharing in the sacrifice on the Cross.
But we are also looking forward to Easter Sunday when we will celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In our Gospel passage this Sunday we hear the beautiful story from the Gospel of St. John about how Jesus heals the man who was blind from birth.
This is another story that we hear in this Lenten season, last week we had the passage of the Gospel of the Samaritan woman, and this week the story of the man that was cured tells us again about the gift of our Baptism and the gift of our faith.
In this story of the blind man, we see the symbols of Baptism — water, light, eyes that are opened to see, a profession of faith.
And we can understand how that story is also the story of our lives; it’s the story of the whole human race. That’s why we are hearing it during Lent, which is, as I said before, a time of conversion and of renewal.
And in this passage of the Gospel there are many beautiful, interesting things to reflect on. One of them, I’m sure that you noticed, is that the blind man did not approach Jesus. Jesus approached him. The Gospel tells us that he sees the blind man as he is passing by. And in his mercy, in his love — Jesus decides to enter into the life of this blind man.
My brothers and sisters, that shows us how much Jesus loves all of us. His mercy is a pure gift. Jesus is still passing by in our world today. He is still looking for those who are blind. He wants to work miracles. Jesus wants to do beautiful things in our lives — in the lives of everyone. We should never forget that: Jesus is still passing by, looking for each one of us, loving us.
Then the Gospel passage tell us that Jesus makes that clay and he anoints the blind man’s eyes with that clay — and then he tells him to go wash in the pool. Then the man is able to see.
So Jesus makes the blind man’s life new in those waters — just as he makes our whole life new in the waters of Baptism.
In the first reading of today’s Mass, God tells us, in that beautiful story of the election of David, God tells us that in our fallen human nature, we can only see the appearance, only the outside of things. But God sees in a different way. The Lord looks into the heart.
And when God is looking into our hearts, what does he see? He sees that we need him. He sees that we are in darkness and lost without him.
So like the blind man in our Gospel today, Jesus comes to be our light, our eyes. Then the blind man makes a profession of faith. When Jesus encounters him again he asks, Do you believe in the Son of Man. And after a brief dialogue the blind man says, I do believe, Lord.
My brothers and sisters that’s what we are getting ready to celebrate at Easter, in our personal lives and especially in the Baptism of our Catechumens when they will be making that same profession of faith, same profession of faith that we have to make every day. And that we renew every Sunday when we come to Mass, and especially in the celebration of Easter when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So today, let us ask for the grace to live always with a new sense of the beauty of our Baptism. The beautiful faith! Jesus has passed by and entered in our lives. He has opened our eyes to see the beauty of God and the beauty of his kingdom that is open now to us.
And my brothers and sisters, let us never forget that this is the most beautiful gift in our lives. We have the gift of life. The gift of family. The gift of so many things. But there is no doubt that what really helps us to make sense of our lives is the gift of faith.
So let’s live with a new sense of the joy of being Christians, Catholics. We have to be like that blind man. We have to tell everybody about what Jesus has done in our lives. And we have to reflect his love, his mercy — in everything we do. Because our faith is about Jesus Christ. We are Christians, followers of Jesus Christ and we know how much he loves us and how much he wants us to be happy and really discover who we are and what we are going to be. And that’s our joy to be so active and noticeable by people that we can talk to other people about the beauty of our faith in Jesus Christ.
So let us ask Jesus to show us any places of darkness that we still have in our hearts and in our world. Let us ask him to shine the light of his love and mercy on us, and help us to see. What are the things that we need to improve? What is it that we can do better in our relationships with one another? How we can bring to people the beauty of the life and teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What a beautiful resolution for today, this week, these coming weeks and especially as we prepare to celebrate Easter. The commemoration of the passion and death of our Lord on Holy Week and then the Resurrection on Easter.
And may our Blessed Mother Mary, who is the Cause of our Joy, help us to always walk in the light of Christ, as children of light. And may she help us to always share the joy of Jesus with everyone.
1. Readings (Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A): 1 Sam. 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Ps. 23:1-6; Eph. 5:8-14; John 9:1-41.