4th Sunday of Lent: O God, who through your Word reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way, grant, we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Sunday Mass Readings, Cycle A: (19/03/2023)
The First Reading, from the first Book of Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a, contains, at best, oblique references to the other two readings. The anointing of David as king may be a reference to the anointing in the responsorial psalm both of which may refer to Christ the good shepherd. The figure of David may also be a prefigurement of the anointing to Messiahship of Jesus for his mission. Whatever the reason for its selection for this day, the theme of the liturgy is better reflected in the other two readings for they present implications and applications of the baptism of the believer.
The Second Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:8-14 is particularly significant because throughout the season of Lent the community has been urged to cast aside deeds of darkness and walk in the brilliance of the light of Christ. In this reading, for the first time during Lent, the darkness-light theme which will be so predominant at Easter is enunciated. The believer must leave the deeds of darkness and live according to the justice and truth of God through the light of Christ. The selection of this reading for the Sunday liturgy of the second scrutiny emphasizes clearly that the preparation of a person coming to the faith is one of moral formation as well as in-formation about the faith. The preparation of adults to be baptized has more to do with choices and deeds than it does with dogmatic teaching.
The Gospel reading from John 9:1-41, dominates the liturgy by the length of the reading and its significance. Already, in Old Testament Revelation, the Lord God had shown the People of Israel how the justice of the Creator was so much more profound and true that the thoughts of men. We have, in fact, heard in the first reading ‘God does not see as human beings see; they look at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.’ (1 Sam 16:76). The Lord pointed out in this way the true, unique, criteria on which men are judged. He also indicated the unique place in which man can meet God’s gaze and enter into a relationship with Him—in his heart. Obviously, by the word ‘heart’ the Bible doesn’t mean the centre of pulsation, but man’s ‘shrine’, his conscience where he can really listen and recognise God’s voice and so benefit from the Light: ‘for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and uprightness and truth’. (Eph 5:9)
Man, incapable of remaining faithful to the truth that is in him, falls back to his own limited criteria. This criteria produces every malice, injustice and falsehood and is used to govern himself, to decide between good and evil, whilst hoping that what he obtains will be to his benefit and so in this way he acts ‘like God’ (Gen 3:5).
God doesn’t give up but comes to meet everyone of us in the two fold way described in today’s Gospel. Firstly, ‘he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes’ (Jn 9:6). God made man, who is a creature. He united Himself to ‘our earth’ so that man would never need to flee Him, but could come to recognise Him through a meeting with His Holy Humanity. St. John wrote in the Prologue to his Gospel, ‘The Word became flesh, he lived among us’ (Jn 1:14).
In the second place from the Gospel account we read, ’He said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam”—which means Sent—‘. (Jn 9:7a). Christ, sent by the Father, takes onto Himself all our sins, which are ultimately the consequences of our blindness, as far as allowing Himself to be stripped, crowned with thorns, nailed to the cross, rejected by His own people and abandoned by His closest friends. Christ’s unprecedented love can’t but definitively overcome, with time, every fear in the face of our limitations because there isn’t anything that can stop Him from loving us. From the loving assumption of our rejection to our obtuseness murder, the Lord has worked extraordinary feats in history. He frequently offered His Body to the Father for our salvation and therefore has consecrated His entire Person for every one of us. He has introduced us into His Most Holy Heart, inflamed with love for us, which is the same as God’s light. In the Light of the Resurrection he made us a ‘new creation’ (cfr 2 Cor 5:17) and in the Gospel account we have heard ‘he went and washed, and came back able to see’. (Jn 9:7)
The indestructible link with Christ, which is founded on His love and fidelity, is the ‘new creation’ that was given to us on the day of our Baptism. Through the Sacraments of Christian initiation we are more profoundly linked with Christ. This ‘new creation’ can not bring fourth fruit in us without the full and renewed consent of our liberty that, in this earthly life, is expressed, reinvigorated and triumphs through the extraordinary events that Christ works in our lives. The blind man was interrogated by the world as to the precise details of his cure and with great simplicity he explained what happened to him: ‘The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went there and washed and was able to see.”’ (Jn 9:11)
Let us ask Most Holy Mary to help us to be faithful to the truth, to the events of our lives, taking the hand that always takes us to live totally for Him, in this life and eternity. ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ (Eph 5:14).