We are grateful to Abbot Richard Purcell OCSO and Father Malachy Thompson OCSO for allowing us to publish this Gospel Reflection for Laetare Sunday.
Fourth Sunday of Lent – 26 March 2017
Gospel: John 9:1-41
Seeing with the eyes of faith
This week’s Gospel records how a man who had been blind from birth was given his sight by Jesus. This is one of the most powerful miracles that Jesus worked because he gave to the man something that enabled him to do so much more. Being able to see is one of the most basic things that most of us take for granted. The gift of sight enables us to do so many other things that we just couldn’t do if we couldn’t see. Ironically most of the other people in the story, even though they saw and witnessed the miracle, remained blind to what Jesus had really done and instead they were trying to find reasons not to accept the miracle.
In the Gospels blindness is usually a metaphor for unbelief or lack of faith – being able to see is compared to being able to believe. When we read the passage in this light it takes on a new meaning, and not just for the blind man, but more importantly for those who refused to accept his story. There are two things worth reflecting on.
Firstly there’s the man’s own story. He was blind from birth. Jesus dismisses the disciples’ question that the blindness was a cause of sin and says that it was rather to reveal the works of God – in other words we are given the gift of faith to enable us to display the power of God in our lives. The man moves from blindness at the beginning of the story to professing his faith in Jesus at the end. Instead of resisting, he allows Jesus to work in his life and the result is liberating.
On the other hand there are the Jews who refuse to believe in the miracle that Jesus has done. They find all kinds of excuses for not believing, firstly they claim it is a different man, then they attempt to make out that he was not really blind from birth and finally they drive him away because they don’t want to accept what he has to say.
The challenge of this Gospel is to ask ourselves who we identify with? Do we allow Jesus to take away our blindness or do we find reasons not to accept what we can see? Jesus’ words to the Pharisees are addressed to us too – there is no guilt attached to being blind, the guilt comes from seeing but not believing. The gift that Jesus offers to us is to see with the eyes of faith.
Fr Richard Purcell ocso
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Fourth Sunday of Lent – Laetare (E.F.)
Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come together all you that love her: rejoice with joy all you that have been in sorrow: that you may exult, and be filled from the breasts of your consolation. Ps. I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: we shall go into the house of the Lord.
Epistle: Galatians 4. 22-31 Gospel John 6. 1-15
Laetare! This is the joy of one stage of Lent completed and an anticipation of the joy of Easter which is to come to us from the cross. At Rome the station is at the church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem chosen expressly in order to celebrate the joys and grandeurs of the new Jerusalem, the Church on earth and the heavenly city.
Today’s Holy Mass shows us that the true Moses is Christ who, having delivered us from the bondage of Satan and sin, made us pass through the waters of baptism and having nourished us with His Eucharist, causes us to enter His Church, the true Jerusalem, a piece of heaven where the elect will sing for ever the canticle of the redeemed.
Great is the joy of the Church at the possession of great these great riches, at seeing them increasingly renewed in her end and at her powers of communicating them to men.