How are we sharing God’s light?
Living the Word l Sister Sandra Brunenn, OSB
Fourth Sunday of Lent (Laetare Sunday) l March 19
1 Samuel 16:1b,6-7,10-13a; Psalm 23:1-3a,3b-4,5,6; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41
Both the first reading and the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Lent provide great drama. In the reading from the book of Samuel the focus is on the selection of the future king. One by one Jesse’s seven sons are brought before Samuel with the expectation that this one would be anointed king. One by one, Samuel rejects them.
Finally, at the bidding of the Lord, Samuel sends for the youngest son who is out tending the sheep. This one, David, is anointed in the presence of all his brothers.
In the Gospel we have the story of the man born blind who is cured by Jesus. The cure causes great consternation among his neighbors and the Pharisees. Even the parents of the man are interrogated about whether he really was blind from birth.
Both readings are great for acting out with children in religion class. I suspect that is one reason why they seem to be so memorable!
The readings are connected with common themes: in both of them we notice contrasting ways of seeing, and in both of them the symbol of anointing holds special significance.
“Our Lenten call to ongoing transformation continues! We pray for ourselves that our eyes will be more fully opened to see as Jesus sees so that we may live as children of the light.”
The man whose physical sight has been restored is progressively invited by Jesus to gain spiritual insight as well. In the beginning he simply states “the man called Jesus.” Upon reflection he says, “He is a prophet.” Finally, to Jesus he says, “I do believe, Lord” and he worshiped him.
In parishes where catechumens are preparing for the anointing at baptism, one of the scrutinies in the RCIA process is celebrated at Mass today. We pray together that these men and women may have their eyes opened to see anew the presence and call of Jesus in their lives.
EYES OF FAITH
The second reading from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians addresses all of us: “Brothers and sisters, you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. . . .” Our Lenten call to ongoing transformation continues! We pray for ourselves that our eyes will be more fully opened to see as Jesus sees so that we may live as children of the light.
Areas of darkness in our culture are also in need of healing. We are startled by the enormity of the gap between those with wealth and those who live in poverty. We are immersed in violence in our neighborhoods, in the entertainment industry, in social media, and in our homes in our everyday speech. And we recognize the lack of concern of many toward our need to care for the earth, our common home. Any one of us may feel like David, the youngest son of Jesse, when addressing these challenges.
Let us remember that in baptism we have been anointed to be children of light. Together we are called to see with the eyes of Christ and be light for the world!
SISTER SANDRA BRUNENN, OSB, is director of initial formation for the Sisters of St. Benedict of St. Mary Monastery, Rock Island. She has also served as a teacher, spiritual director, and pastoral minister, and was prioress of her Benedictine community from 2012 to 2020.