CP&S Note: In the Extraordinary Form the 26th February 2017 is Quinqagesima Sunday, which, in days before the Council always preceded the Lenten season, and is now I believe celebrated in the Ordinariate Usage. I apologise for ‘coming in’ on the last of the Gesimas, but, as a preparation for Lent which begins next week, it’s message holds particular relevance.
The Gospel of the Mass, while announcing the Passion reminds us at the same time of the cure of the man who was born blind – an example of the gift of faith which takes us from our blindness, from darkness, and from sin. In the Epistle, St. Paul’s fervent hymn in praise of charity also emphasises that supernatural transformation which the redemption wrought by Christ should affect our human souls.
We at CP&S wish you all a holy and blessed Lent.
The readings: Epistle; 1 Corinthians 13, 1-13 Gospel; Luke 18, 31- 43
Our faith is the measure of the graces we may receive. The blind man in today’s Gospel was made whole to the measure of his faith. Because he believed that Jesus could give sight to his eyes, God was able to give him what he desired. As we believe, so do we receive.
St. John Chrysostom suggests to us that God’s grace is like a fountain of water; and each of us approaches the fountain with various sized vessels. Those with larger vessels receive and carry away more water; and those with smaller vessels receive and carry away less. It is not the fountain that determines how much each will receive and take away. It is the vessels that we bring to to fountain that determines the quantity that we receive.
As we believe, so do we receive. Jesus tells many that He cures, that their faith has made them whole. Many times before they are healed, He asks them if they believe, once this affirmation is made, He then cures them.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus has informed His apostles that He is going to suffer and be put to death and will rise again on the third day. The apostles did not understand this, and thought that perhaps Jesus was speaking in parables. They were spiritually blind, and it is on this occasion that Jesus cures the blind man.
This blind man was able to perceive that Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Redeemer. Though he was physically blind, he had spiritual vision. The people told him that “Jesus of Nazareth” was passing by, but he cried out: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy upon me.” He is told one thing, but cries out another. This blind man saw beyond the physical and material realm, to that of true reality of the spiritual world. The apostles with physical sight, saw the material realm and the miracles that Jesus worked, but could not see clearly into the spiritual reality.
In healing the blind man, Jesus instructs us that it is our faith that will enable us to see. We will perceive or understand Jesus and His gifts to us, to the extent that we believe. As the apostles opened up their hearts with ever increasing love, so their faith in Jesus grew; and to the extent that their faith grew, so did the graces that they received. Love nourishes faith, and increasing faith opens our souls to more grace. The more graces we have, the more charity enters our hearts — increasing once again our capacity to receive more graces.
St. Chrysostom gives us another analogy of the light of the sun. The sun shines its light everywhere, but different houses receive various amounts of this life giving light. Some houses have large windows and the light of the sun penetrates and radiates throughout the house. Some houses have small windows which allow very little light to penetrate within. The measure of light entering in is not determined by the sun, but rather by the house or receptacle of the light. Once again, we see that the amount of grace that we are given is determined, not so much by the source of grace, but by the container receiving the grace.
The grace flowing from the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is without measure. It is infinite, because It is God Himself. However, among all those that worthily receive Him, some carry away much grace, and others a very small amount. It is not that God is unfair or holds grace back from some and floods others with His grace. The disparity is caused by us. It is according to our faith that we are healed.
We have been, perhaps, spiritually blind for a long time. With the approaching penitential season of Lent, it is time for us to cry out with the blind man: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy upon us.” In that plea for spiritual sight, let us firmly believe that Jesus will hear and give to us what we ask — we will only receive to the limit of our faith. We increase this faith, through charity or love. We increase in love through self-denial and sacrifice.
The key to heaven is within reach, we only need to take it in hand. Love God with all our being — making a sacrifice of ourselves to Him through penance and self-denial. Increasing in this true love, we will grow in faith, as we grow in faith we receive ever greater graces. The greater the graces, the greater our love and self-sacrifices become. Our goal is therefore, to ever increase in love, graces, and merit until we obtain the eternal blessedness of the Heavenly Beatific Vision.