4th Sunday of Lent – Year A

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Fr. Austin Fleming

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Eyes of Faith

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

As with all of Jesus’ miracles,
the cure of physical blindness here is not the point.
Rather, Jesus’ purpose here is to speak about
light and darkness, sight and blindness
in the mind, in the heart, in the spirit, in the soul.

Except for the very wise among us —
and some among us are wise indeed —
most of us simply believe what we see
and spend little time pondering how we see what we see,
or what we fail to see,
or what we refuse to see,
or what we want to see.
We tend to trust what we see, the way we see it
and to believe what we see, the way we see it to be true.

That’s just how the Pharisees looked at things.

Standing before them was a man born blind who now could see.
But they could not see how this came to be.
They were blind to how the man born blind came to see.

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Dominican Blackfriars

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Fr. George Smiga

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BUILDING
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Taking the Next Step

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

We must be willing to take the next step, and we must be willing to take it more than once. Again, look at the man in the gospel. No sooner did he take the step that allowed him to see, than another step was offered to him, a step for something more. Now he could see physically, but, even before he could absorb that miracle, he was offered a step to believe in Jesus, a step that would allow him to discover the light of the world. Through the debate with his neighbors and the Pharisees, he was posed with a choice, a choice about Jesus. He was asked to decide whether Jesus was a sinner or whether he was from God. How easy it would have been for the man who was once blind to sidestep such a decision. He was now able to see. Was not that enough? Why should he risk doing something more? Why should he stick his neck out and risk offending the authorities? He was able to see, surely there was nothing more than that he needed. How easy it would have been for him to remain in the blessing he had been given, rather than to reach out for the next good thing God wanted to offer. But the man in the gospel took the risk. He accepted Jesus as the one from God. Yes, he found himself in trouble, but he came to see Christ as the light of the world. Had he not taken that next step, he could have continued to see physically, but he would never have seen eternally. For the rest of his life, he could have seen the sky and the trees, but he would not see the face of God.

RELATED HOMILIES:

The Power of One Truth
Taking Time to See
Seeing More
Our Story

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Bishop Robert Barron

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Msgr. Joseph Pellegrino

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DIOCESE OF
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA

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Light in Darkness

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

I’m sure you recognize these lines as what many consider the greatest opening lines in any novel written in the English language. They are, of course, the first lines of Charles Dickens’ Masterpiece, A Tale of Two Cities. The novel contrasted the insanity of the reign of Terror following the French Revolution with the magnanimity of those who reached out beyond their own concerns to care and love for others.

The people who heard or read the beautiful ninth chapter of the Gospel of John, today’s long Gospel of the Man Born Blind, knew that they were also experiencing the best of times and the worst of times. The Gospel of John was not competed until the end of the first century. By then, Peter and Paul, all of the other apostles, perhaps with the exception of John himself, had all been killed, many like Barthemew tortured to
death. Even the pagan historian Tacitus wrote that the Christians persecuted under Nero suffered so horribly that many Romans felt a deep compassion for them. And yet, through all the terrors the people who read John had experienced or expected, there was a deep joy that though they were following Christ to death they were also joining him in eternal life. Christians supported each other, cared for each other, and, above all, held onto their faith that, as the Gospel concludes in John 20:31 “these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” It was the worst of times, yet it was the best of times.

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Fr. Robert Altier

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When Darkness Becomes Light

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

In the second reading today St. Paul says something very interesting. He says that we were once darkness, but we have now become light in the Lord. He goes on to say that we are to live as children of the light. Notice, however, in the first sentence, that he does not say that we were in darkness and we are now in the light; no, he says we were darkness and have become light.

I find this fascinating because it hearkens back to the beginning of creation when God separated the light from the darkness. People often wonder about this because the sun was not created until the fourth day, so how could there be light? The light spoken of in Genesis is not a physical light but, rather, a spiritual light. Scripture tells us that God dwells in light inaccessible, but this is not the light to which Genesis refers either because that light would not be created, but would have to be identified with God’s being.

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Fr. Michael Chua

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ARCHDIOCESE OF KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

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What’s Wrong with the World?

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

This story isn’t only about the blind man, or the other characters in the story, it’s also about all of us. This is our journey, moving in stages to confront our own blind spots in order to see Jesus more perfectly.

How do we see again?

How do we allow our Lord to heal our blind spots?

Well, a good start would be to admit that we are part of the problem, if not the problem itself. If we can only see the problem as “something out there”, if we are constantly complaining, blaming, and finding faults with others, then most likely we have missed the massive blind spots lurking behind the periphery of our physical, moral, spiritual vision. Unless I admit that I am blind, then my blindness remains. That is the essence of repentance, the prerequisite of Christian discipleship.

Venerable Fulton Sheen gives us this important reminder,

“Two classes of people make up the world: those who have found God, and those who are looking for Him – thirsting, hungering, seeking! And the great sinners came closer to Him than the proud intellectuals! Pride swells and inflates the ego; gross sinners are depressed, deflated and empty. They, therefore, have no room for God. God prefers a loving sinner to a loveless ‘saint’. Love can be trained; pride cannot. The man who thinks that he knows, will rarely find truth; the man who knows he is a miserable, unhappy sinner, like the woman at the well, is closer to peace, joy and salvation than he knows.”

Whether we wish to admit it or not, many of us don’t see our blind spots, because we are too proud to admit that we have them.

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Fr. Tom Lynch

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Clergy E-Notes

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

Pro-life reflections and intercessions related to the Sunday readings

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Fr. Evans Chama, M.Afr.

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I’m Blind, Heal Me Lord

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

This Gospel is used as part of the steps taken by those preparing to be baptized at Easter. They receive Christ the light of the world that opens their eyes and enables them to see. Lenten season is a journey of conversion. Actually, our conversion begins when we care to revise the way we think, the way we look at things and the way we act.

Jesus comes to wash and open our eyes so that healed from our blindness we can see as God sees.  He comes to create a new humanity. That’s why he repeats the gesture of creation. At the beginning, in the book of Genesis, what does God do to create the human person? He uses mud. That’s the gesture Jesus repeats when healing the man born blind. He’s creating a new humanity that has an outlook purified and humane.

Lord, heal me from my blindness so that I may be able to look at others with an eye of compassion and love. Help to be humane.

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Fr. Jude Langeh, CMF

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Open Your Eyes to the Lord

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

Fr. Jude Langheh’s homily of the fourth Sunday of Lent focuses on Jesus Christ as the light of the world, drawing from the first reading from the book of Samuel, the responsorial Psalm from Psalm 23, the second reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, and the gospel according to St. John. The homily shows how Jesus restores sight to a man born blind and identifies himself as “the light of the world.” The Pharisees, on the other hand, are blind to the salvific power of Christ and are ignorant despite being learned. The man born blind, however, remains consistent in his growing faith despite their attempts to silence him, and eventually, Jesus relieves him of his suffering. The homily concludes by reminding listeners that they need to wake up from their sleep and rise from the dead so that Christ may shine on them again. Through baptism, believers have been enlightened and must witness their faith in Jesus, committing to a life of goodness, right living, and truth. Suffering is a part of life, but rather than despair, we should ask God for strength and remember that there is always a bright light at the end of the tunnel, which is Jesus Christ.

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Fr. Phil Bloom

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The Second Scrutiny

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

Today we have the second scrutiny – an exorcism prayer based on Jesus healing the blind man. It begins this way:

“As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.”

The man represents humanity born with original sin, a curious kind of blindness. We easily see other people’s defects, their blind spots, but we have difficulty recognizing our own blindness. We need Jesus radical healing. He does it in a way that might cause to recoil:

“he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes”

The ancients believed that saliva had healing power. Indeed, scientists today know saliva has antibacterial agents, but that’s not the point. According to Augustine, the combination of saliva and earth represents Jesus joining humanity with divinity.

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Fr. Tommy Lane

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DIOCESE OF
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Jesus Touches You When You Receive the Sacraments

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

When Jesus comes to us how does he come? Every time we receive the sacraments Jesus comes to us, and there is a visible sign of Jesus coming to us invisibly through his sacrament. Just as the Holy Spirit came mightily upon David when he was anointed with oil by Samuel, and just as Jesus used the matter of clay and water for the healing of the blind man, Jesus comes to us in each sacrament when matter is used together with prayer, and we call the prayer the “form.” So the matter and form of every sacrament is the visible sign of Jesus coming to us invisibly but powerfully in the sacrament.

  1. In the Sacrament of Baptism, the matter is water which is poured over the head to baptize—symbolizing washing—and the form is “Name, I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” which is prayed at the same time as the water is poured.
  2. In the Sacrament of Confirmation, the matter is the bishop using his thumb to anoint the forehead with the oil of chrism (clarified by Pope Paul VI in 1971). The form is “Name, Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.”

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Fr. Michael Cummins

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Coming to Faith: The Man Born Blind

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

In today’s gospel there is a development in the thought of the man born blind and in his proclamation of who Jesus is. It is important to note that just as the questioning the man faces increases, just as his social supports fall away and just as the pressure on him gets heavier – the man’s knowledge of who Jesus is and his proclamation of who Jesus is increases.

When his neighbors asked who had healed him, the man born blind responded that it was the “man called Jesus” who had healed him. The man did not even know where Jesus was.

Brought before the Pharisees and facing both their authority and the debate among themselves regarding the righteousness of Jesus, the man born blind says, “He is a prophet.”

The Pharisees in their authority summon the man’s parents and question them. In their fear, the parents back off by saying, “Ask him, he is of age; he can speak for himself.” Now imagine that. The man’s own parents back away. The man is totally on his own before the powerful.

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Fr. Michael Fallon, MSC

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Psalm 23

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

Psalm 23 speaks of the refreshment of perfumed oil with which God anoints us at the banquet. It is this image that is picked up in the First Reading where David is anointed with chrism by Samuel. This, in turn, reminds us of the anointing we all received at our baptism. Just as the Holy Spirit came down upon Jesus at his Baptism, so at our baptism
we were united to Jesus and God’s Spirit filled our hearts. Baptism unites us in a special way to Jesus, the shepherd, by welcoming us into his flock. Only the most grave and obstinate sin can separate us from this communion. Whenever we feel lonely, or confused, or lost, or find that we are straying, all we need to do is cry out and the shepherd will come seeking us in love. The Second Reading also focuses on our baptism. From the paschal candle, symbol of the risen Christ, a candle is lit in our hearts. Paul asks us to let the light of Christ shine on us.

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Fr. John Kavanaugh, S.J.

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Escape from Plato’s Cave

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

The story of the blind man does, however, ring a bell for anyone who has ever read “The Myth of the Cave” in Plato’s Republic. There we find a story of all humanity chained in a darkened cave throughout life.

These captives can see nothing but flickering images on a wall—shadows, appearances, illusions—which they take for reality. One prisoner, liberated from the chains, makes the arduous crawl upward to the world of the shining sun.

When he returns to the cave with his tales of the new-found source of light and the life and warmth it gives, the prisoners think him crazy. They simply deny his experience. It just can’t be. The chains and the amusing images on the wall are reality. Thus his conversion is ridiculed; his invitation is resisted.

This is how the Greek Plato describes the intellectual assent of the soul to truth. To contemplate divine life is to find freedom; but it is also to encounter opposition from “the evil state of man, misbehaving in a ridiculous manner, arguing over shadows and images.”

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Bishop Frank Schuster

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ARCHDIOCESE OF
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Why?

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

OPENING: My friends, why do bad things happen to good people? Have any of us asked that question lately? We are all struggling with the impact Covid-19 is having on our community and world. We are all trying to figure it out. Why is this bad thing happening to us? It is not a new
question right? It is a very old question, as we all know. Clearly this question was on the minds of the disciples at the beginning of the Gospel. The disciples ask Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” What a horrible question. Instead of having compassion on the man born blind, they want to assign blame so that they can somehow believe that they can avoid this infirmity…

CLOSING: We are all trying to see God’s plan in this whole coronavirus outbreak. We are all asking ourselves the question:

  • Why is this happening to us right now?
  • Is it because the world needed punishment? Is that it?
  • Is it because we are sinners and God is chastising us? Could it be that?

What if the answer to that question is the same answer Jesus gave to his disciples today: so that the glory of God could shine through us in this moment of history? What does that look like? And, if this is the case, what would that new vision require of me this coming week as a disciple
of Jesus who has commanded us to love God and love our neighbor?

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Fr. Vincent Hawkswell

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ARCHDIOCESE OF
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In Heaven There Will Be Light

4th Sunday of Lent (A)

We cannot even imagine what God has prepared for those who love him. However, the images in this Sunday’s readings can help.

Jesus, “the light of the world,” opens the eyes of a blind man. “The Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Once you were darkness, “but now in the Lord you are light.” Therefore, “live as children of the light – for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.”

Light and seeing mean knowledge or understanding. In heaven, we will know.

“Don’t keep me in the dark,” we say. “Suddenly a light went on”; it “dawned on him.” We discuss things “in light of” our knowledge. We ask the knowledgeable to “shed light on the subject.” We lament that some people are “not very bright.”

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