Homily for the Fourth Sunday in Lent – Fr. Claude
Understanding the Readings of the Fourth Sunday in Lent: Cycle A
First Reading: 1 Samuel
Samuel chooses David the youngest son of Jesse and anoints him king.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23:1-6
The Lord is my shepherd.
Second Reading: Ephesians
Paul exhorts Ephesians are told to leave the works of darkness and live as children of light.
Gospel Reading: John
9:1-41 (shorter form: John 9:1,6-9,13-17,34-38)
By healing the man born blind, Jesus reveals himself as the Son of Man, the Light of the World.
The readings of the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays in Lent are essentially connected with baptismal symbols. They are water, light and the raising of Lazarus and they are all profound Johannine themes. Let us delve on this Sunday’s theme of Jesus being the Light of the World.
Today’s gospel story revolves round a man born blind. People believed that misfortune and physical defects were results of sin. Disciples themselves shared in the traditional beliefs of the day about human suffering. In today’s Gospel, Jesus did not directly answer their query, but took a different approach; namely, this man’s disability is made by Jesus an occasion to manifest God’s power. Jesus then restored his sight. Healing was a good thing, but the circumstances of the healing were controversial because it was a Sabbath day on which healing was forbidden by the Pharisaic Sabbath Law as it fell under the 39 taboos for creative activities on the Sabbath (Cf. Rabbinic work called the Mishna [Shabbos Chapters 7 – 8], based on Ex 31:12-17). As usual, the disbelieving Pharisees were upset by the miracle, and they verified from his parents that he was born blind. When the Jewish leaders questioned the man over and over about the cure, he challenged them back and then they expelled him from their midst. After the expulsion, the man born blind met Jesus again. Then Jesus made his final self-revelation when he said that he was the Son of Man. That was the true moment of enlightenment and the man made his act of faith and worshiped Jesus. The episode concludes with Jesus saying that those who are blind will now see, and those who think they now see are found to be blind. Like the Samaritan woman and her people of last Sunday’s gospel (John 4), the man born blind also gradually gets enlightened about the true identity of Jesus and his call to be a disciple, while the Pharisees who claim themselves to be leaders are the ones who perpetuate their blindness. In the first reading of today we saw how Jacob thought and judged from worldly standards. He never thought that the youngest lad Jacob in his mid adolescence could ever to the king of Israel. That is why referring to King Saul, prophet Samuel had to say, “Do not look on his appearance or the height of his stature.” God’s vision of things is very different from and sometimes diametrically opposed to our human, narrow and limited scopes. Baptism is a total transformation of our vision of things. At baptism we have made a fundamental option for God. This choice must be an ongoing one. We got to keep seeing things with the eyes of God and of Jesus. The call of Lent is one of repentance and conversion. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia, which etymologically is made up of two words; namely, meta (‘above/beyond’) + noe¯ (‘think’). Metanoia then mean to think beyond the present status of sin, limitedness, imperfections and misery and keep transcending the same. It means to look at life from an entirely different spiritual and heavenly point of view. One who guides us in that process of transformation is Jesus who is the Light of the World. Those truly begotten in him at baptism cannot have elements of darkness and evil in their vision of things. Let us seek the courage and wisdom to behold his blinding eternal glory with our feeble eyes of faith. In this regard, where do I stand, as I confront Jesus the light? What is my Lenten response to him?