FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Reflection for March 19, 2023
Fourth Sunday of Lent (A)
1 Samuel 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A | Psalm 23: 1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6 | Ephesians 5:8-14 | John 9:1-41
While last Sunday, through the Gospel of the Samaritan woman, Jesus promised also to us the gift of living water (Jn 4, 10.11), this fourth Sunday of Lent, called “Laetare” (Rejoice) Sunday, presents Christ “light of world” who heals a” born blind man”(Jn 9, 1-41)
After Physical Education class one day, Candice, a blind girl was in the locker room getting ready for the next class. All of a sudden all the lights went out in the locker room and all the girls in the locker room started screaming. Candice asked the girl standing next to her “what happened? The friend told her that all the lights went out and they couldn’t see. Candice calmly turned to her friend and said don’t worry, take my hand, I’ll lead you out. The blind girl’s classmates learned a valuable lesson that day – she may be blind but she isn’t “disabled”. She just sees in other ways.
God's ways of seeing are not our ways. In today’s First Reading, Samuel is sent by God to anoint David as king. At the presentation of Jesse’s sons, Samuel paid attention to the external appearances of the potential candidates and judged them accordingly. Samuel saw Jesse’s elder son Eliab and thought, “Surely, the Lord’s anointed is here.” Eliab looked like John Lloyd Cruz. Then Samuel saw the other, older sons. And the prophet thought, ‘The Lord surely must have chosen one of these!’ Jesse’s other older sons looked like Richard Gutierez, Paolo Avelino, Jericho Rosales, Daniel Matsunaga, Dingdong Dantes and Coco Martin, respectively. But the Lord saw and judged differently. God corrected and instructed Samuel stating that “the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart”. God sees the fullness of the person’s potential. God sees that person’s intricate and detailed beauty. David was anointed because, in the long run and despite his faults, he would remain loyal to God. He ignores our appearances and sees our humanity with faith in our goodness and with love. Where we, like Samuel, see only human limits, weakness and brokenness, God sees an opportunity to reveal himself.
Once there were two owners of convenience stores in Barangay Bangayan: Daleng of Magdalena Sari-sari Store and Luz of Luzviminda General Merchandise. Their stores were across the street from each other, and the two had a very aggressive competition. One day an angel came to Daleng of Magdalena Sari-sari Store and said, “The Lord has sent me to tell you that because you have been reciting your Rosaries everyday and attending Mass every Sunday, you may have one wish. Whatever you ask for, however extravagant, you will be given. But you must understand that whatever you receive, your rival, Luz of Luzviminda General Merchandise will receive two-fold.” The cunning store owner thought for a few moments and finally said, “I wish to be made blind in one eye!”
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, tells then directly and to the point to live as children of light. Baptism is an “awakening and living in the light”. In fact, in the early Greek-speaking Church, Baptism came to be known as φωτισμός (photismos) meaning "an illumination or bath in light". Prior to their coming to faith, believers were in the darkness of sin, but through their baptismal initiation they have been ushered into the light. Those who have been reborn through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus are thereby children of light whose lives must reflect the privileges of their calling, trying always to do what is pleasing to our Father. To achieve this, let’ s make our own the invitation of St. Bonaventure to a journey of the mind toward God: “Open your eyes, tend your spiritual ear, open your lips and make your heart available so that you may in all creatures see, hear , praise, love, worship, glorify, and honor your God “(Itinerarium mentis ad Deum, I, 15).
The story is told about hearing-and vision-impaired Helen Keller. After her teacher, Anne Sullivan, had given Hellen the names of physical objects in sign language, Ms. Sullivan attempted to explain God and tapped out the symbols for the name "God." Much to Ms. Sullivan's surprise, she spelled back, "Thank you for telling me God's name, Ms. Sullivan, for he has touched me many times before."
In our Gospel, Jesus heals the man born blind and reveals himself to him as the Son of Man. The man born blind gradually comes to a greater understanding about who Jesus is and what it means to be his disciple. Once he was in darkness – physically and spiritually – but then he became exposed to the light, and instead of being blinded by the light, he saw the way, and walked in it. His experience resembles our Baptism. He was "anointed" by Jesus soil and spit (resembling the original creation in Gen 2:7) then sent to a pool of water where his eyes were opened. At our Baptism we received the gift of faith, which enabled us to see the light. The blind man in the Gospel received physical sight and also regained spiritual sight. He had gradually moved from a superficial relationship with Jesus to one that is much more profound. Ultimately, this Gospel reminds us that the way we see best is through the eyes of faith for without Jesus, we are truly blind.
Lent is the process of having our eyes opened to see things as God does. Lent is about our daily choice to live as children of light. Lent invites us to wash in the waters of Siloam, that is, to Him who was sent by the Father. Let us wash ourselves clean in Jesus Christ, then we can see.
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Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum