Pastoral Message – March 27, 2022
Happy Laetare Sunday! The fourth Sunday of Lent is referred to as, “Laetare” Sunday. “Laetare” means “Rejoice” in Latin and “Joy” is the theme of today’s liturgy. Traditionally, the liturgical decorations and the priest’s vestment will be changed to a rose or a light-violet color to highlight the fact that Easter is drawing near. We observe our Lenten sacrifices of prayers, fasting and almsgiving, but is also a time for us to rejoice and celebrate even as we do penance.
In the Gospel today, we hear the story of Jesus healing a man blind from birth. The man who was born blind was thrilled with the healing he experienced from his chance encounter with the man who cured him. He rejoiced in the gift, but did not know the giver. Yet, he did have the courage to stand up for the one who healed him as the religious authorities tried to debunk the miracle. He even taunts them by asking whether they might want to meet him too. His parents were even brought into the interrogation by the religious authorities. In the end, Jesus seeks out the man and identifies himself as the one who healed him. So, the man received more than physical sight, but also insight into the person of Jesus.
Indeed, faith is about so much more than that miracle from Jesus. We may find it interesting to know that the Pharisees in this story are physically able to see, but spiritually, they are blind. In contrast, the man born blind was physically unable to see but is spiritually able to see. As we reflect more upon the story, we learn that it is a message about spiritual blindness. A disorder which affects many people still today. This is the struggle between the light of faith and the blindness of unbelief. It can also signify the opposition between good and evil.
We may not be blind, but if we refuse to open our eyes we may still experience darkness. A darkness which makes us stumble and fall. Our blindness could be our incapacity to see the goodness in our neighbor, or the brighter side of things, and the blessings that lie behind misfortunes. Blindness could also be manifested by a loss of hope and/or a lack of trust in God and the inability to feel compassion for others, etc. These areas or times of darkness make our life dark, scary, uninteresting and unappealing. But the moment we turn to the Lord, we can begin to perceive the sight of God and learn to open our heart and mind to see things with the sight of our soul.
We may have heard the saying, “seeing is believing.” But Jesus, although he was a person, lived 2,020 years ago and we can’t see him today. However, he does give us people, situations, experiences or other symbols in our everyday lives that represent his presence in our lives today. Much like the Pharisees, we often struggle to see and remember our blessings, not recognizing that they are signs of God’s presence in our life in the here and now. May we pray during this Lenten season for God to help us see him in our everyday lives, so that we may be God to others in little ways, every day. As St. Paul reminds us: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.”
On this “Rejoicing” Sunday, let us reflect upon our blessings. Let us think of what brings us joy in life and thank God for those things. Let us rejoice because the Lord and the Church give us a season for purification, renewal, and conversion. Moreover, by the Gospel today, God invites us to receive the Light of Christ and allow it to shine in our lives. Indeed, Jesus comes to the world to heal our spiritual blindness so that we can recognize him as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Blessings and peace,