Pastors reflection with Fr Carl

Pastor’s Reflection

“Laetare Sunday”

Dear Parishioners,
The Fourth Sunday in Lent is traditionally known as “Laetare Sunday,” from the Latin word “Rejoice!” The introductory antiphon for today’s Liturgy is based on the words of Isaiah 66:10. The antiphon and the readings both express the Church’s joy in anticipation of the Resurrection. Today’s readings remind us that God gives us proper vision in the body and soul and instructs us to be constantly on our guard against spiritual blindness. The first reading from the book of Samuel illustrates how blind we are in our judgments and how much we need God’s help. The second reading extends the light-versus-darkness metaphor leading to the blindness-versus-sight theme of today’s gospel. The cure of blindness by Jesus reported in today’s gospel teaches us the necessity of opening the eyes of the mind by faith and warns us that those who pretend to see the truth are often blind, and those who acknowledge their blindness are given clear vision. In this episode, the most unlikely person, namely the blind man, receives the light of faith in Jesus, while the religion-oriented, law-educated Pharisees remain spiritually blind. “There are none so blind, as those who will not see.” To live as a Christian is to see and have a clear vision about God, us, and others. Today’s gospel reminds us that we are to live as children of the light seeking what is good
and right and true. Our Lenten prayers and sacrifices should serve to heal our blindness so that we can look into the hearts of others and love them as children of God and our own brothers and sisters.

1. We need to allow Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. We all have blind spots – in our marriages, parenting, work habits, and personalities. We often wish to remain in the dark, preferring darkness to light. It is even possible for the religious people in our day to be like the Pharisees: religious in worship, in frequenting sacraments, in prayer life, in tithing, and the knowledge of the Bible – but blind to the poverty, injustice, and pain around them. Let us remember, however, that Jesus wants to heal our
blind spots. We need to ask Him to remove from us the root causes which blind us: namely, self-centeredness, greed, anger, hatred, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits, and a hardness of heart. Let us pray: “God our Father, help us see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly.

2. Get rid of cultural blindness. Our culture also has blind spots. It is often blind to things like love, happiness, marriage, and true, committed sexual love. Our culture has become anesthetized to the violence, the sexual innuendo, and the enormous suffering of the world around us. Our culture, media, movies, and values are often blind to what it means to love selflessly and sacrificially. Our culture is blind to the reality that life begins at the moment of conception, despite scientific proof, and it callously promotes abortion. We continue to advance destructive practices such as embryonic stem-cell research, homosexual marriages, euthanasia, and human cloning and refuse to see the consequences of godless behavior on human society. In the name of individual rights, the radical left in our society decries any public demonstration of religious beliefs and practices, or the public appearance of traditional values, questioning the substance of family values. Darkness abides in the deep recesses of our opinions and ideologies. On the other hand, the radical right decries the immorality of our times, without lifting a finger to help the poor and the underprivileged and without questioning unjust foreign policies and wars. This cultural blindness can only be overcome as we enter a living experience of Jesus dwelling within us and others through personal prayer, meditative reading of the Bible, and genuine sacramental life.

3. Pray for clear vision. Peter Marshall, the former chaplain to the United States Congress, used to pray, “Give us clear vision that we may know where to stand and what to stand for because unless we stand for something, we shall fall for anything.” Today’s gospel challenges our ability to see clearly. Do we see a terrorist in every member of a particular religion? Do we see people who are addicted to drugs as outcasts and sinners? Do we fail to see God at work in our lives because He has shown us no miracles? Jonathan Swift said, “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” Remember that this gift belongs to those who can see the good hidden in the kernels of suffering and failure. It resides in those who never give up hope. Let us pray for the grace to see and experience the presence of a loving and forgiving God, especially during this Lenten Season.

Love and Peace,

Fr. Karl