Greetings on the 4th Sunday of Lent! Today is also called Laetare Sunday, from the first word in the Introit, or the opening verse, of the Mass, "Laetare, Jerusalem' or "Rejoice, o Jerusalem'. Thus, just as during the season of Advent we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, in this season of Lent, we also have this short "break from the penitential nature of this season, and We reflect for a While on the theme of 'joy'.
That is why today the vestments used are of the color rose rather than the deep penitential violet.
This part of the preparation of our minds, hearts and bodies for the coming of the celebration of the greatest mysteries of our Faith, the Resurrection. That we should know of the outcome of our penitence and repentance: the joy of the liberation and freedom from all the harms and the threats that await us as long as we remain in the state of sin. The Antiphon "Rejoice, O Jerusalem" continues: "Be joyful, all who were in mourning."
Our readings allude to the the kind of joy we ought to have. The joy of One Who Was blind but now can see.
In the first reading we learn that god's ways of seeing are not our ways. When the prophet Samuel was sent by God to anoint a new King, a new shepherd of Israel, arrives at the house of Jesse. He wants to choose the strongest, oldest, or most handsome son to become king. But God says "not this one" to each. Then David, the youngest, and the runt of the litter, is brought to him, and the Lord said "There-anoint him, for this is the one!" Samuel anointed David and "from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David" (cf. 1 Samuel 16:1-13).
Jesus reminds us of this in the Gospel as well. A blind man sees again and believes that Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one. The pharisees see Jesus, and do not believe. The Gospel uses this juxtaposition to point out that it is the blind man who truly sees, and that it is the sighted pharisees who are truly blind (John 9:1-41)
The blind man thus becomes a sign of all humanity, "born in sin." But he is made new, he can see again, when Jesus mixes some dirt with his own saliva and rubs it on the man's eyes. Remember, it was God who first fashioned Adam (the first man) out of the mud of the earth and breathed life into him. Now, in Jesus, We are made a new Creation.
Jesus is the "One," the Anointed One, the Christ who is sent by the Father. In fact, "Siloam", the name of the pool he told the blind man to wash in, means "sent."
Jesus is indeed our Shepherd, as we sing in today's Psalm (cf Psalm 23). He leads us through the dark valley, the valley of the shadow of death (sin), to the green pastures and restful waters.
We join the man who was blind as we give praise to God and proclaim "l do believe, Lord!"
Let us live with the joy of knowing that we have a Shepherd who makes us new whole, that We Who Were Once blind, now See. As St. Paul teaches us in the second reading, let us live "as children of light."
God bless you all,
Father Robert Letona