My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today, this fourth Sunday of Lent is called “Laetare Sunday” — rejoice Sunday! A Sunday of joy, or rejoicing.
And the Church is rejoicing today, as we know, because we are half-way down the road in our Lenten journey towards Easter. Today, we see that the “end” is in sight. We are looking forward to the joy of the Resurrection, the celebration of Easter.
Yesterday, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord, which we know is the beginning of the mystery of redemption — the first of the joyful mysteries of our salvation.
And I was thinking that it is always nice to celebrate this feast during the season of Lent. Because the truth of the Annunciation is the message that God is with us.
The Annunciation means that God goes with us on our journey of life.
Because Jesus has entered our world — we no longer live in darkness. The path we walk now — is filled with light. The light of Christ.
Now it’s interesting because this is also the experience of the blind man that we hear about in today’s Gospel.
The man in this story has been “blind from birth.”
Of course, in a way, this man in the Gospel is a kind of a symbol for all of us. He is a symbol of every man and every woman — because we are all born with original sin, which is part of our human condition.
And all of us — we all need Jesus to open our eyes. To touch us with his love, with his mercy. All of us need Jesus to open our eyes to see. To see the light of God that surrounds us. The light of God that fills this world, all of creation.
And I’m sure that you noticed in the passage of the Gospel today, that it is Jesus who makes — as we can say – the first move. It is Jesus who approached the blind man.
We hear these words — “As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.”
And all through the Gospels, we hear similar words. Jesus is always “passing by.” And he still is! We need to believe that, my dear brothers and sisters. Because it is true.
Jesus is still moving through this world. Still moving through our lives. He is always “on the look out.” Always looking for ways that he can “enter” into our hearts. Always looking for ways to open our eyes to God’s love. For ways to make our life happy. To give us meaning, in everything that we do.
In the first reading of today’s Mass, we heard the great story of the anointing of King David. And we hear that beautiful line:
Not as man sees does God see,
because man sees the appearance
but the Lord looks into the heart.
God sees our hearts. He knows our hearts. He knows our hearts better than we know ourselves. And because he looks into our hearts, God knows that we want to love him.
God sees that we want to be made clean, that we want our eyes to be opened. He knows that we really do want to live according to his will. He knows that we are looking for peace and happiness. He knows exactly what is in our hearts.
And just like the blind man in today’s Gospel, we want to see. We want to really understand why we are here. What is the meaning of our lives? How can we achieve happiness and make other people happy?
But God also knows that we cannot save ourselves. We need help to find him. So we need his grace. We need the light of Jesus. And Jesus is passing by.
So in a sense, we are like the blind man in the Gospel today. The truth is that if we are honest with ourselves we can understand that our selfishness sometimes makes us blind. Our sins leave us lost, in the dark. We cannot find our way. So we need Jesus to come and find us. We need him to make “the works of God visible” — to us.
And I was reflecting this week that it is especially beautiful during this Lenten Season — and just a few weeks ago we had the Rite of Election here at our Cathedral and there were probably thousands of people that are going to receive Baptism during the Easter Vigil, and we have our brothers and sisters, the Elect, that are going through the RCIA program here at our Cathedral parish and will receive Baptism at the Easter Vigil.
So in a sense, this beautiful reality that we are talking about — Jesus coming to us, Jesus giving meaning to our life, being open to the light of God — happens in Baptism.
So the story that we heard in today’s passage of the Gospel, is a story about Baptism. It is, as I mentioned before, a story about our lives.
As we heard: Jesus “anointed” the blind man’s eyes with clay — just as we anoint the catechumens with oil in Baptism.
And as we heard: Jesus tells the blind man to be washed in the Pool of Siloam — just as we use water to wash away our sins in Baptism.
And finally, just as we do in Baptism, we heard the blind man making a profession of faith in Jesus. He says: “I do believe, Lord.”
So this week, my dear brothers and sisters — half-way on our journey to Lent — Jesus is calling each one of us once again. He’s calling us to renew our faith. Jesus is calling us today to remember the beautiful gift of our Baptism.
He’s calling you, and he’s calling me — to walk by faith, to follow him, to make him the light of your life and the light of our world.
This is what St. Paul is talking about in our second reading today, when he says:
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Beautiful prayer for this week, as we ask for the grace to see that call from Jesus — to see that Jesus wants to be with us, that he’s giving meaning to our lives, and that he’s calling us to be the light of the world.
So let us ask Jesus to open our eyes again. To help us to see the light. The light of his presence in our lives — in the people we meet, in the decisions we have to make.
Our Blessed Mother Mary, who we celebrated yesterday in the Annunciation — is the Cause of our Joy. The light of Christ brings joy to our lives and to the world.
May she 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, 10-13a; Ps. 23:1-6; Eph. 5:8-14; John 9:1-41.