WITH ST. MARY'S
THE FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
It is not about appearances but seeing as God sees.
FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT
On this Sunday in Lent, we hear in all of the readings at Mass about the way that man sees compared to the way God sees. As one of our senses, sight is the predominant way in which we personally determine reality. We may not be able to prove existence without the other senses, but as long as we are able to see what is in front of us, we will be able to say to ourselves that this is true and real. However, we hear multiple times today that this is not how true reality is meant to be acknowledged; in our limits, humans can only base reality on appearances. But God, who is all-knowing, all-loving, and all-powerful, bases His acknowledgment of truth and reality on what can be seen from the heart. As Christians, we must emulate God in this way.
READ THIS SUNDAY'S MESSAGE
This Sunday’s Gospel reading is very long. This is deliberate: many details within the story of the healing of the blind man opens up everything else we hear about in the other readings. In the first reading, Samuel is brought to Jesse to anoint one of his sons, but God tells Samuel not to base the anointing on the appearances of these sons. Rather, he must do as God does and look into the hearts to determine the one who is to be anointed. Doing so manifests itself as God communicating directly to Samuel. The man born blind in the Gospels is judged on his appearance as a blind man; at this time in history, it was believed that physical ailments were punishments for one’s own personal sins or the sins of their parents. Ironically, because he was blind, this man did not have the ability to judge based on appearances. In order to know what was true and real, he had to be able to read into the hearts of those with whom he spoke to know their intentions. This is why he never trusted the Pharisees when they questioned him and acknowledged Christ as the Son of Man when all Christ had to do was to claim it. In the Responsorial Psalm, we pray the most well-known psalm as a community: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” When we set aside the limits of trying to guide ourselves in life in order to make room to allow Christ to guide us, we are like the blind being guided by someone with sight. If we try to do things alone, Christ tells us exactly what will happen and what we can expect: he describes this as the blind leading the blind. Christ told the Pharisees in the Gospel, “those who do not see will see, and those who do see will become blind.” He is not talking about physical sight; he is speaking about the gifts God has given us through our senses can lead us to selfish pride. In other words, they blind us. The Pharisees flippantly question Jesus, “Surely, we are not also blind, are we?” They were, yet their ability to physically see blinded them to their sins. The culmination of the message of this Sunday can be found in the beginnings of both the Epistle and the Gospel. Paul tells the Ephesians (and all Christians who read this letter) that we were once in darkness, but we are now light in the Lord. The world is shrouded in darkness because of the sins of man; we contribute to this through our sinfulness. But just as the Word was uttered out of the mouth of God at the beginning of creation, “Let there be light”, Christ tells us in the Gospel that he is the light of the world. We are like the moon, reflecting and radiating the source of light emitted by the Sun to guide others when it is dark. We cannot produce this light on our own; we need Christ. We are meant to emulate Samuel, to emulate the Ephesians, and to emulate the man born blind - to acknowledge the light of Christ and the truth of God by going beyond the senses. We must see through the power of the heart.
Family activity to do at home: This Sunday is Laetare Sunday. Just like Gaudete Sunday during the season of Lent, Laetare Sunday is meant to be the one Sunday in the season of Lent when we shift our emphasis from penance to rejoicing. The priest will wear pink instead of the usual penitential violet - why? In the midst of our time in the wilderness of Lent, we ought to remind ourselves why we are praying more, fasting more, and giving more. We are preparing for our call to evangelize to the world that is to come at the end of Lent, just as Christ went out into the world after his time in the wilderness. Learn more about Laetare Sunday by seeing the activity below, as well as more reflections on the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Lent.