As we read the scriptures during Lent, we should recall that the readings are specifically chosen to be a “catechesis” [faith instruction] for those who will be baptized during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday; we all renew our baptismal promises during that liturgy. Thus, we ask: What is today’s Gospel (Jn 9:1-41) of the “man born blind” teaching us about our faith and the person of Jesus?
John the Evangelist. This Gospel writer uses the word “semeia” to describe Jesus’ miracles. These special deeds are “signs” pointing us to Jesus himself. Today’s healing of the blind man is a sign of Jesus’ power; it is also a sign of Jesus’ compassion for the needy. Truly, Jesus’ power is manifested precisely through his deeds of mercy. Likewise, our acts of merciful compassion manifest God’s love flowing out to others through our lives of generous service.
Some of the Jews refused to believe that the blind man was actually healed by Jesus. However, the man himself confessed his faith: “I do believe, Lord.” Jesus added: “I came into this world … to make the sightless see and the seeing blind.”
First Encyclical. Reflecting on phenomenal gift of human sight or vision, this writer recalls that first encyclical of Pope Francis was Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith), issued on June 29, 2013. The following are some “points to ponder” drawn from Pope Francis’ spiritual wisdom.
► “There is an urgent need, then, to see once again that faith is a light, for once the flame of faith dies out, all other lights begin to dim. The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence” (4).
► “Faith’s way of seeing things is centered on Christ…. Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them, with his own eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing” (20, 18).
► “Faith’s understanding is born when we receive the immense love of God which transforms us inwardly and enables us to see reality with new eyes” (26).
► “The Eucharist is precious nourishment for faith: an encounter with Christ truly present in the supreme act of his love, the life-giving gift of himself…. In the Eucharist we learn to see the heights and depths of reality” (44).
► “Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence …” (57).
► “Mother of Jesus, help our faith! Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call…. Remind us that those who believe are never alone…. Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, that he may be light for our path” (60).
James H. Kroeger, M.M.
Fourth Sunday of Lent
O radient light, O sun divine!
Of God the Father’s deathless face!
Who from the first moment of Creation
Rose up in splendor that all things might
Reveal and reflect your truth, your beauty,
Your majesty and your power.
Protect me from ego, pride and ignorance
That I might never again walk in darkness.
But let the glory of your resurrection
Dispel all evil and error in my mind.
O morning star of love and grace
Light the way I should go and
Bring me into fuller communion
With your saints and angels.
O Son of God and source of life!
May my life be a mirror of your love
To everyone I meet, that even in
The darkest valley of death and despair
Your Cross might conquer all sin
Heal all wounds and raise us all
To that kingdom where you live and reign
With the Father and Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M
Photo: Maryknoll Sisters at Selma, March 7, 1965. (Photo courtesy of Maryknoll Mission Archives)