The Fourth Sunday of Lent is known as “Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday,” expressing the Church’s joy in anticipation of the Resurrection of our Lord. Today’s readings remind us that it is God Who both gives us proper vision in the body as well as in soul and instructs us that we should be constantly on our guard against spiritual blindness.
Scripture lessons summarized:
By describing the anointing of David as the second king of Israel, the first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, illustrates how blind we are in our judgments and how much we need God’s help. It reminds us that those whom God involves in his saving plans are not necessarily those whom the world perceives as great. In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Ephesians of their new responsibility as children of light “to live as children of the light, producing every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.”
In today’s Responsorial Psalm, (Ps 23), we celebrate the care of God, our Good Shepherd, who keeps us safe in the darkness of this world. Presenting the miracle of Jesus’ giving of sight to a man born blind, today’s Gospel teaches us the necessity of being willing to have our eyes opened by Faith and warns us that those who assume they see the truth are often blind, while those who acknowledge their blindness are given clear vision. In this episode, the most unlikely person, namely the beggar born blind, receives the light of Faith in Jesus, while the religion-oriented, law-educated Pharisees remain spiritually blind.
To live as a Christian is to see and to grow continually, gaining clearer vision about God, about ourselves and about others. Our Lenten prayers and sacrifices should help to heal our spiritual blindness so that we can look at others, see them as children of God, and love them as our own brothers and sisters, saved by the death and Resurrection of Jesus.
1) We need to allow Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. We all have blind spots — in our marriages, our parenting, our work habits, and our personalities. We are often blind to the presence of the Triune God dwelling within us and fail to appreciate His presence in others. Even practicing Christians can be blind to the poverty, injustice, and pain around them. Let us remember, however, that Jesus wants to heal our blindness. We need to ask him to remove from us the root causes of our blindness: self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits, hardness of heart, and the like. Let us pray with the Scottish Bible scholar William Barclay, “God our Father, help us see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly and, follow him more nearly” day by day.
2) We need to get rid of cultural blindness. Our culture also has blind spots. Often it is blind to things like selfless love, happiness, fidelity with true, committed sexual love in marriage, and the value of human life from birth to natural death. Our culture has become anesthetized to the violence, the sexual innuendo, and the enormous suffering in the world around us. Let us counteract this cultural blindness as, with His grace, we experience Jesus dwelling within us and within others, through personal prayer, meditative reading of the Bible, and a genuine Sacramental life.