Sunday Reflections- Third Week of Lent

My Sister and Brothers in Christ, Rejoice!!!!

As we gather this weekend, the Church celebrates Laetare Sunday.  This word comes from the first word of the Introit (the Entrance Antiphon), “Rejoice”.  The themes of Light, the healing from physical and spiritual blindness abound in our readings, calling each of us to reflect on the healings in our own lives.  In our gospel this weekend, we hear the story of the man born blind, who is given back his sight.  How he is brought twice before the Pharisees to explain who has restored his vision.  Now, with his new sight, he recognizes his healer as a prophet and a man from God.  In contrast, it is now the Pharisees who are unable to recognize Jesus as the Son of God who are truly blind.

It is striking in the story that after the man is healed, it is the onlookers who enter into the debate, once the man was healed, as to whether he was in fact the same man.  It is as if they have difficulty recognizing him once the blindness, his defining feature for them was gone. They even referred to him as the one who used to “sit and beg.”  For them, he was not a person with a name or a story, but simply part of the landscape, known for his begging and his blindness.  Despite not seeming to know him, or worse, not wanting to know him, they presume that his blindness must have been the result of sin, his or his parents.

The irony of this story is that was the blind man’s neighbors who are the really blind ones.  They were unable or unwilling to look beyond their presumptions and prejudices to truly perceive the good in this man.  Moreover, they could not truly see Jesus, saying they knew he was a sinner.  As Jesus was trying to heal the man’s physical blindness, he also tried to heal the blindness of the bystanders by giving them the eyes of faith, so that they could now see what the blind man saw.

This is precisely what Eucharistic Prayers at Mass every week seek to instill within us; to heal us of all division, and restore us to the gifts of God that he longs to offer.  As the Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation that I have been using throughout Lent so eloquently and poetically states, “Holy Father, we humbly beseech you, to accept us also together with your Son, and in this saving banquet, (The Wedding Feast of the Lamb), graciously to endow us with his very Spirit (the light of faith) who takes away everything that estranges us from one another.”  For as the gospel this week illuminates for each one of us, “the Lord has anointed our eyes, we go and wash, and we are enabled through his grace to see and to believe in God.  Look upon those who call to you, O’Lord, and sustain the weak among us, give us a new life, a new beginning by your unfailing Light… grant we pray, that with an ever more eager faith we might hasten toward the Solemn celebrations to come. 

We might ask ourselves this week, “What would it mean to see others through eyes that have been healed of all spiritual blindness?”

And so we pray, “Lord Jesus, Light of the world, you who have come to heal our blindness; give us eyes to see others truly, so that we may know them even as you know them.”  Though we might think of healing physical blindness as a great miracle; the gospel and the Lamb’s Supper gives us new eyes to see that it is the healing of spiritual blindness that is truly the greatest miracle.  On this Laetare Sunday, let the Church “Rejoice” because the Easter Mystery is near!…… JMJ…….Fr. Bob!!!!