With the light of faith he who was blind discovers his new identity. He is no longer a beggar marginalised by the community; he is no longer a slave to blindness and prejudice. His path of enlightenment is a metaphor for the path of liberation from sin to which we are called. Sin is like a dark veil that covers our face and prevents us from clearly seeing ourselves and the world; the Lord’s forgiveness takes away this blanket of shadow and darkness and gives us new light. The healed blind man, who now sees both with the eyes of the body and with those of the soul, is the image of every baptised person, who immersed in grace has been pulled out of the darkness and placed in the light of faith. But it is not enough to receive the light, one must become light. Each one of us is called to receive the divine light in order to manifest it with our whole life.
– Pope Francis
Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Lent
O God, who through your Word reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way, grant, we pray, that with prompt devotion and eager faith the Christian people may hasten toward the solemn celebrations to come. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Deus, qui per Verbum tuum humani generis reconciliationem mirabiliter operaris, præsta, quæsumus, ut populus christianus prompta devotione et alacri fide ad ventura sollemnia valeat festinare. Per Dominum nostrum Iesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
Today’s Gospel: John 9:1-41
As Jesus went along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind?’ ‘Neither he nor his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered ‘he was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
‘As long as the day lasts
I must carry out the work of the one who sent me;
the night will soon be here when no one can work.
As long as I am in the world
I am the light of the world.’
Having said this, he spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man and said to him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (a name that means ‘sent’). So the blind man went off and washed himself, and came away with his sight restored.
His neighbours and people who earlier had seen him begging said, ‘Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?’ Some said, ‘Yes, it is the same one.’ Others said, ‘No, he only looks like him.’ The man himself said, ‘I am the man.’ So they said to him, ‘Then how do your eyes come to be open?’ ‘The man called Jesus’ he answered ‘made a paste, daubed my eyes with it and said to me, “Go and wash at Siloam”; so I went, and when I washed I could see.’ They asked, ‘Where is he?’ ‘I don’t know’ he answered.
They brought the man who had been blind to the Pharisees. It had been a sabbath day when Jesus made the paste and opened the man’s eyes, so when the Pharisees asked him how he had come to see, he said, ‘He put a paste on my eyes, and I washed, and I can see.’ Then some of the Pharisees said, ‘This man cannot be from God: he does not keep the sabbath.’ Others said, ‘How could a sinner produce signs like this?’ And there was disagreement among them. So they spoke to the blind man again, ‘What have you to say about him yourself, now that he has opened your eyes?’ ‘He is a prophet’ replied the man.
However, the Jews would not believe that the man had been blind and had gained his sight, without first sending for his parents and asking them, ‘Is this man really your son who you say was born blind? If so, how is it that he is now able to see?’ His parents answered, ‘We know he is our son and we know he was born blind, but we don’t know how it is that he can see now, or who opened his eyes. He is old enough: let him speak for himself.’ His parents spoke like this out of fear of the Jews, who had already agreed to expel from the synagogue anyone who should acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. This was why his parents said, ‘He is old enough; ask him.’
So the Jews again sent for the man and said to him, ‘Give glory to God! For our part, we know that this man is a sinner.’ The man answered, ‘I don’t know if he is a sinner; I only know that I was blind and now I can see.’ They said to him, ‘What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?’ He replied, ‘I have told you once and you wouldn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it all again? Do you want to become his disciples too?’ At this they hurled abuse at him: ‘You can be his disciple,’ they said ‘we are disciples of Moses: we know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this man, we don’t know where he comes from.’ The man replied, ‘Now here is an astonishing thing! He has opened my eyes and you don’t know where he comes from! We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but God does listen to men who are devout and do his will. Ever since the world began it is unheard of for anyone to open the eyes of a man who was born blind; if this man were not from God, he couldn’t do a thing.’ [‘Are you trying to teach us,’ they replied ‘and you a sinner through and through, since you were born!’ And they drove him away.
Jesus heard they had driven him away, and when he found him he said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied ‘tell me who he is so that I may believe in him.’ Jesus said, ‘You are looking at him; he is speaking to you.’ The man said, ‘Lord, I believe’, and worshipped him.
‘It is for judgement
that I have come into this world,
so that those without sight may see
and those with sight turn blind.’
Hearing this, some Pharisees who were present said to him, ‘We are not blind, surely?’ Jesus replied:
‘Blind? If you were,
you would not be guilty,
but since you say, “We see”,
your guilt remains.’
Fourth Week of Lent Reflection
Written by Carl E. Olson in Praying the Our Father in Lent
Themes: Light, Darkness, Blindness, Sight, Signs, Life, Death, Healing, Judgement, Resurrection
From the fourth Sunday of Lent until the end of the Lenten season, nearly all of the Gospel readings for each day are from the Gospel of John. The fourth Gospel has several great themes that are unique to it, including that of light and darkness, which is set forth in the prologue (Jn 1:1- 18). “What came to be through him was life,” the Apostle John wrote, “and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1:3b-5). This contrast is certainly evident in the Gospel reading for Cycle A, the account of the man born blind. The man, who was blind from birth, knows very little until he encounters the healing Saviour and is cured of both physical and spiritual blindness.
“This blind man,” commented St Augustine on this story, “is the human race.” Every one of us is born into spiritual blindness, recipients of the original sin and the severed communion between God and man going back to Adam. Each of us, like the blind man, is unable to heal ourselves; desiring to see, we stumble about in darkness and misery. We are in need of Christ and his light, which comes through his word and the sacrament of baptism. Lent is a good time to offer thanks for the gift of spiritual sight, and to go to Confession to confess any sins, mortal or venial, that have either destroyed or damaged the life of grace.
In the account of Nicodemus visiting Jesus by night (Jn 3:14-21), read in Cycle B, Jesus states that “everyone who does evil hates the light and does not come to the light lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.” Entering the light of God – that is, conversion! – requires humility. And in the Gospel of Cycle C, the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk 15) offers one of the most beautiful accounts of both humility on the part of the wayward son who returns home – and profound forgiveness – on the part of the merciful father.
Forgiveness, Mgr Romano Guardini wrote in his classic book The Lord, “is a part of something much greater than itself: love. We should forgive, because we should love.” Forgiving is difficult, and so is fighting temptation. As we pray throughout Lent, hidden weaknesses will come to light and sinful habits will reveal themselves. Times of prayer and contemplation lead us to ask hard questions: what are the temptations that regularly confront us? Why do we give in to them? What can we do to avoid occasions of sin? How must I change my ways in order to grow in holiness?
Praying the Our Father in Lent