"Breaking Open the Word" :
James Cavanagh is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. His weekly column, "Breaking Open the Word," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Click here to visit the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver.
April 3: Fourth Sunday of Lent
God does not see as men see. He looks on the heart. God enlightens Samuel to recognize God’s chosen one just as Jesus, in this week’s Gospel, heals the blind man who came to recognize and believe in Christ.
The second reading revolves around the theme of darkness and light. Paul reminds us of our baptism when he says “you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord.” Through the waters of baptism we passed from the darkness of ignorance and sin into the light of life.
This week’s Gospel is about the man born blind. After anointing him with clay, which should remind us of Adam who was formed from clay (Gn 2:7) Jesus tells him to wash, a clear allusion to baptism. Anointed by Christ, the man regains his sight and is “remade” when he washes in the pool of Siloam, which means “sent” (notice the connection to the first reading where Samuel too is “sent”).
An important part of this story is the fact the man born blind was rejected by the religious leaders and even his own family for believing in Christ. The connection between all three readings is the contrast between darkness and light, where light represents faith and understanding while darkness signifies incredulity, spiritual blindness and hatred of God.
Key verse: “One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see” (Jn 9:25).
Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Healing the wounds of sin, the Holy Spirit renews us interiorly through a spiritual transformation. He enlightens and strengthens us to live as ‘children of light’ through ‘all that is good and right and true’” (No. 1695).
Pope Benedict XVI: “Jesus is the one through whom and in whom the blind man is cleansed so that he can gain his sight. The whole chapter turns out to be an interpretation of baptism, which enables us to see. Christ is the giver of light, and he opens our eyes through the mediation of the sacrament” (“Jesus of Nazareth,” Vol. 1).
Life application: This Sunday marks the second Scrutiny for those who will be baptized at Easter. We pray that the elect may not only receive the light of faith but also the courage to profess that faith in amidst an unbelieving and sometimes hostile world.
Following Christ and taking our faith seriously can be costly, as the man born blind discovered. To “live as children of light” in a world blinded by every vice known to man is not easy. But Christ, the “true light that enlightens every person” (Jn 1:9) gives us the strength to do just that.
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