Fourth Sunday of Lent
José H. Gomez
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver
My sisters and brothers in Christ:
The 4th Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday, - Rejoice Sunday - from
the opening words of the Entrance Antiphon. "Rejoice, Jerusalem!
Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her, you who mourned for
The austerity of the Lenten liturgy is broken with words of joy. It is
a reminder for all of us that in the middle of this time of penance there
is also a call for joy because we are getting ready to commemorate the
Passion and Death of Christ and then His Glorious Resurrection on Easter
"We realize that approaching the Cross also means that the moment
of our Redemption is coming ever closer … the joy of Easter will soon
be upon us" In Conversation with God, 2.26.1.
Today we also have the 2nd Scrutiny for the Elect of our RCIA program.
Yesterday we presented to them the Creed and today we pray for them that
they may receive "a spirit of repentance, a sense of sin, and the
true freedom of the children of God".
The readings of today's Mass talk to us about light and darkness, about
sight and blindness. Not just physical sight but supernatural vision that
helps us to see with the eyes of faith. Supernatural light that dispels
darkness from our lives.
It is an important aspect of Christian life not too difficult to understand
because we have experienced the importance of light in our physical life.
For some people it has been a recent experience after the snowstorm of
last week. Even here at the Cathedral we were partially without power
for a few days, and it was frustrating.
It becomes much more important if we are thinking of the meaning of our
life. Spiritual Darkness is a source of despair and sometimes has terrible
consequences in people's lives.
I am sure that we can think of people around us that are not able to see
the solution of their problems and often make decisions that are not the
best for them and for their families.
The first thing that we are told
in today's readings is that God sees things in a different way. The First
reading from the first book of Samuel talks about David's anointing as
king of Israel. In his election it is clear that God sees things in a
different way: "Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the
appearance but the Lord looks into the heart" 1st Reading of Today's
Mass: Sam. 16, 7.
It is a good lesson for us, especially in our society that gives so much
importance to appearance. Isn't it true that in our society we tend to
measure our success by external appearances and to judge people for what
they have, the way they dress, or the car they drive, etc.
Let's never forget that God sees what is in our heart. The real source
of success in our lives is not the external appearance; it is the honesty
of our hearts. The sincerity of our personal struggle to be faithful
to God, "because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into
The question that we all have is how can we do that? How can we overcome
the tendency of judging success or people by the external things? For
that we need the light of the grace of God that helps us to see things
in a supernatural way.
As Jesus says in today's Gospel, "While I am in the world, I am the
light of the world" and the 2nd Vatican Council reminds us, "Only
in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light"
Gaudium et Spes, 22.
"Jesus proclaims that he is the Light of the world because his life
among men has given us the ultimate meaning of the world, of the life
of every man and every woman, and of mankind as a whole. Without Jesus
all creation is in darkness, it does not understand itself, it does not
know where it is going" Navarre Bible, St. John 9, 4-5.
If we have a Christian vision of life, things and events have meaning.
We come to the understanding of pain, death, suffering, real joy. We have
a clear vision of who we are, what we want, where are we going, what is
the Will of God for us.
That is why St. Paul encourages us, as he writes to the Ephesians in today's
2nd reading, to "live as children of light, for light produces every
kind of goodness and righteousness and truth".
Then the challenge that we have is to overcome darkness: lack of supernatural
vision or the danger of seeing things just in a human way, which is our
normal tendency. We have to accept that sometimes our first reaction is
human and we need the grace of God to overcome that first reaction and
see the light of God's vision.
In Today's Gospel, St. Jn. 9, 1-41 we see the journey of faith of a blind
man looking for Jesus and the rejection that he suffered giving witness
of Jesus divinity. He was given the grace to recover his sight and had
to overcome the rejection of people as he gave credit to Jesus for the
In a sense he went through a lot to recover his sight and be accepted
by people. Jesus used some clay to perform the miracle and ask him to
"Go wash in the Pool of Siloam -which means Sent. So he went and
washed, and came back able to see.
But even before that the Disciples question his integrity: "Rabbi,
who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Then, the neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar, then
the Pharisees and even his parents: "… we do not know how he sees
now, nor do we know who open his eyes. Ask him, he is of age; he can speak
Finally, Jesus found him again and asked him: "Do you believe in
the Son of Man? He answered and said, 'Who is he, sir, that I may believe
in him?' Jesus said to him, 'You have seen him and the one speaking with
you is he' He said, "I do believe, Lord', and he worshiped him".
For each one of you and for all of us, the journey of faith is similar.
It is like that for our first conversion and then the ongoing conversion
of our Christian life.
We need the grace of God to see things in a supernatural way but we have
to look for it and overcome our own weakness and the pressure of a society
that rejects the value of spiritual life and faith in God as a way of
What is the "miraculous clay" that will allow us to see things
with the eyes of faith? It is the grace of God. How do we obtain that
grace? We know the answer, through the Sacraments.
Each one of the Sacraments gives the grace of God, starting with Baptism.
"The Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen this miracle as
symbolizing the sacrament of Baptism in which, through the medium of water,
the soul is cleansed and receives the light of faith" Navarre Bible,
St. John 9, 8-34.
As we also know there are two Sacraments that we can receive more often:
the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Today we especially
ask for the grace to love the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to see it as
a real gift from God to obtain the forgiveness of our sins and the strength
to practice our faith.
In the words of Pope John Paul II, "It is the joy of God's pardon,
conferred through his priests, when one who has the misfortune to offend
his infinite love repentantly returns to the arms of the Father"
Lent is a good time to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation because
we are called to a special conversion during this time. A change of heart
so "that we can all live Christ's resurrection, not only in the liturgy,
but also in our own soul" Pope John Paul II, 2/28/79.
The grace that we receive in the Sacraments is the "clay" that
will help us never to lose the supernatural outlook, the vision that we
need to see things with the eyes of faith.
Then there are going to be some other obstacles, like the ones that the
blind man experience in today's Gospel. Doubt, criticism, rejection, etc.,
but if we have the "light of Christ" we can overcome them because
as Jesus himself said, "I am the light of the world, he who follows
me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life"
St. Jn. 8,12.
These days as we reflect on the means that we have to grow in the practice
of our faith, living water, light of the world, let's make the resolution
of using all the means that the Church offers to us to be able to see
life and the daily events of life, with the eyes of faith.
We must open our eyes, our hearts and minds, to the light of God's word
to us and the power of Christ's example for all of our lives. We should
use this Lenten season to prepare ourselves through prayer, abstinence
and almsgiving for the joy of Easter, of Christ's rising from the dead,
for our sake. Let us awake to the presence of Christ in our lives.
Let us also pray for world peace, for the safety of the men and women
in our armed forces and the people of Iraq, and for God's guidance for
our national and world leaders.
Let us finish asking the intercession of Mary, Our Blessed Mother, and
making an act of faith like the blind man in today's gospel: "I do
believe, Lord, and he worshiped him".