Fourth Sunday of Lent

1 Sam 16:1, 6-7.10-13, Ps 23, Eph 5:8-14, Jn 9:1-41

In today’s readings of the fourth Sunday of Lent, there is a contrast between darkness and light.  In the world today, we have many contrasts between love and hate, war and peace, justice and injustice.  Within all these contrasts, we have a choice to love or hate, to opt for war or peace, to fight for justice or be victims of injustice.

In the first Reading, David is anointed king of Israel.  He was especially chosen by the Lord and the Spirit came down upon him.  It was not the choice of Samuel, but the choice of God that David should be anointed and be king.  What message does this have for us today?  In many ways, we are like David.  We seem small and insignificant in the eyes of the world, but God had a choice of each one of us when God called us and anointed us with the Holy Spirit to do marvellous work for Him.  It is not by appearances that God makes a choice of people. For God, it is the heart that matters.  Here, the contrast is between the external and the internal.  What matters most is the internal aspect of our relationship with God.

The psalm today speaks of Jesus the Good Shepherd.  Again, we are faced with contrast, that of walking in the wrong path or walking in the right path.  We always have a choice.  The Good Shepherd always seeks out the lost and finds the sheep that has been abandoned or has strayed from Him.  If we stray away from Him, it is likely that we have made up our own minds that we know what is best for us and our futures.  However, the contrast of light and darkness always remains our choice.  The Good Shepherd will always fill our cup to overflowing if we choose His way.  We will never be left in the dark, for He always stretches out His hand and gives us the reassurance of His faithfulness and love.  We do not have to fear the darkness, for He is our Light.

The Gospel today speaks to us of blindness and sight, darkness and light.  Jesus is asked by His disciples about a man’s blindness – whether it is because of his sinfulness, or of his parents’ sins that he is blind?  Jesus’ answer was simple – it was neither his sins nor his parents’ sins, but rather that God could perform great things in him for God’s glory. 

Sarah J. Maas’s words are apt:

“When you spend so long trapped in darkness, you find that the darkness begins to stare back”
(Sarah J Maas, “A Court of Mist and Fury, A court of Thorns and Roses”, #2).

Her words speak to me of the reality of the blind man’s situation.  He was trapped in darkness all his life from birth with no sense of sight.  People criticized him and judged him because of his blindness.  However, God was merciful to him and restored his sight. 

Today we are faced with doom and gloom situations with the global pandemic of the Coronavirus.  People are living in constant fear and trembling, in case they could be the next fatal statistic.  What has brought on this fear?  Why are we suddenly taking extra special precautions to prevent the virus from attacking us or our loved ones?  Where things did not matter before, now it has prompted us to adopt a new perspective on life and the choices we make.  We recognise the fear and darkness that this virus is causing in our society. The Lord’s words come to mind and encourage us to trust in God and to “turn back from [our] evil ways, and do good.”

The blind man is personified in us.  We need to allow God to touch us and heal us so that we can be witnesses for God, like the blind man who now can see.  When we are open to God in our blindness, then God can do so much good in us and can transform us.  The sight that the blind man received was also that of faith.  People were amazed at his sudden ability to see, and others like the Pharisees and neighbours around, were sceptical at this ‘so-called miracle’.  Who is really blind here?  It is the Pharisees and their lack of faith, therefore, Jesus cannot work His miracles in them because they refuse to see the light.  They are trapped in their own darkness, as darkness stares back at them because of doubt, fear, anxiety and their inability to see their own sin and darkness.

Today, we are faced with many critics, and many questions are asked which may make people doubt their self-worth and confidence.  However, when we believe in the goodness of God and the miracles that He performs each day in our lives, then we can become like David, and can allow God to reign in our lives. We can become like the blind man who now can see and God’s glory will be revealed in us through the Holy Spirit.

When we choose light over darkness, we allow God’s transfiguration to take place in us and be instruments of God’s goodness and Light. When we live in God’s light and are healed from our transgressions, we can sing with confidence: 

“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see”.

Sr Columbia Fernandez O.P

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