We are presently in the fourth week of Lent. Traditionally, the Fourth Sunday in Lent is known as Laetare Sunday, which means “rejoice.” We are invited to rejoice because we will soon celebrate the Feast of Easter, the Resurrection of Jesus, which is the core and foundation of our faith. The readings today remind us that it is God who gives us proper vision in body as well as in soul. This week’s readings also remind us that we should be constantly vigilant against spiritual blindness.
By describing the anointing of David as the King of Israel, the first reading, taken from the First Book of Samuel, illustrates how blind we are in our judgments and how much we need God’s help. The reading reminds us that God sees not just our outward appearances, but beyond, to our hearts and minds. Appearance is not the reality. In the second reading, Paul reminds the Ephesians of their new responsibility as children of light: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.”
In the Gospel, Jesus gives sight to a blind man. This story illustrates the necessity of opening the eyes of our mind by Faith and warns us that those who assume they see the truth are often blind, while those who acknowledge their blindness and unworthiness are given clear vision. In this episode, the beggar, who was born blind, receives the light of Faith in Jesus and healing from his blindness, while the Pharisees remain spiritually blind. “There are none so blind, as those who will not see.” To live as a Christian is to see, to have a clear vision about God, about ourselves and others. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we are to live as children of the light, seeking what is good and right and true. Our Lenten prayers and sacrifices should serve to heal our blindness so that we can look at others, see them as children of God, and love them as brothers and sisters.
The Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ time suffered from spiritual blindness. They were blind to the suffering and pain right before their eyes. They refused to see the pain and injustice around them, and they closed their eyes to the needs of others. There was no compassion in their hearts. In short, they were truly blind both to the Holy Spirit and to the human needs around them. Spiritual blindness is very common in modern times; in fact, it is probably the most awful disease in our society today. Such blindness refuses to see the truths of God’s revelation and God’s invitation to salvation. This blindness refuses even to admit that God exists and to see the needs of others, the poor and the needy. Lent is the perfect opportunity to open our minds and hearts to the needs of others and make the celebration of Easter a joyful and meaningful one.
As you know, this Monday, March 27th, we will begin our parish mission. We are very fortunate that Rev. John Amsberry will be leading our parish mission. A few years ago Rev. Amsberry led the parish mission at Saint Brigid Parish in Pacific Beach. The mission was very well received and, according to some in attendance, the church was packed. Rev. Amsberry is a great speaker, and he has been a guest on a number of television and radio shows. His writings have reached people around the world. Rev. Amsberry speaks passionately about the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. He is faithful to the teachings of the Church and has a heart for evangelization.
In order to make the program available to the most people, we have two talks scheduled every day, Monday through Wednesday, one in the morning following the 8:00 am. Mass and the same talk will be given in the evening at 6:00 pm. The talks will last approximately one hour. In order to defray the cost of the parish mission, we will take a freewill offering at the end of both talks on Tuesday, March 28th. However, if anyone would like to make a donation to offset the program cost, please contact me.
We will conclude the parish mission with a Lenten Penance service on Wednesday, March 29th at 7:00 pm. There will be 12 priests available to hear confessions. I encourage you to take advantage of the many opportunities offered during Lent here at Santa Sophia. If you have any questions regarding our upcoming parish mission, please call the office. Let me conclude with a prayer by William Barkley, “Lord help me to see Your Son Jesus more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly.”