Sunday, 26 March 2017 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Rose (Laetare Sunday)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is the celebration of the Fourth Sunday of Lent, or also known as Laetare Sunday, coming from the word “Laetare” in the beginning of today’s Introit, “Laetare Jerusalem” or “Rejoice, o Jerusalem”. As we celebrate the joyous aspect of Lent, as we await the true joy of Christ coming unto us, that is why the vestments and the liturgical colour used today is rose instead of the usual violet, representing the reality that while Lent is a season of penance, but it is also a season for expecting the coming of the joy of Christ.

Why do we celebrate this joyous occasion, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because at the same time that we remember the upcoming struggles, sufferings and pains that our Lord had to endure during His Passion on the Cross, and throughout the way of suffering, we also remember that all of those had to happen so that we may receive true joy, that is the joy of our salvation and redemption from our sins.

Christ is our true Joy, for He came into this world bearing us hope, the true hope that He alone could bring, and not the false joys present in this world. And we rejoice in Him, because through Him, we have been able to see the light of God shining upon our path, guiding and leading us on our way, that we may be able to find our way and at the same time, freeing ourselves from the attachment and the association we have thus far with the darkness of this world.

Through His light, all of us who believe in Him have been purified from the darkness within us, and in our baptism, we received the lighted candle, which flame came from the Paschal candle, a representation of the light of the Lord’s Resurrection, as the light that overcame the darkness of the world, as on Easter Sunday, the world which once had not known hope, then finally is able to hope again upon the Lord and His light.

In today’s Gospel, we heard how Jesus healed the man who was born blind on the sabbath. He made him able to see once again, and the man was truly filled with joy. He was not able to see, and he could not see the light as most of us could. We always know this world as it is because we are able to see the light around us coming into our eyes. But imagine what would it be like, had we been born blind as the man whom Jesus had healed.

Imagine living in a world where we could not see at all, where no light can be seen, because our eyes were not able to see it. Imagine what kind of joy we would have if our eyes were opened and light entered into our eyes for the very first time. Only then that we can appreciate how joyful it is for the blind man to be able to see again. And he therefore believed in Christ and all that He had done for him.

Let us contrast this with the actions of the Pharisees and the actions of the teachers of the Law who were also there, and who have not just witnessed that miracle, but many other miracles that Jesus had performed among the people, also in their presence. Yet they have refused to believe in the Lord Jesus, out of all others who have believed in Him. They have seen and yet they rejected the Lord and His good works.

They had not believed because in their pride and arrogance, they have hardened their hearts against God. They were jealous against the Lord Whom they thought to be a rival to their power and influence. As a result, they were blinded by all these prejudices, by all the negativities and all the wickedness they had in their hearts, so that even though they could see with the eyes of their body, the eyes of their hearts were in reality, blind.

They could see light through the eyes of their body, the ones on their head, but they could not see the true Light of the world, which Jesus had brought into this world, Himself. They allowed darkness to enter their hearts and blind them, and thus, they did all the things in opposition to the Lord and His works because of that. As a result, they were not to be the recipients of God’s grace, love and forgiveness.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what we need to reflect on as we continue to progress through the season of Lent. Have we been open to receive God’s forgiveness in this season and time of mercy? This Lenten season is a time for mercy, and we are always urged to receive God’s mercy, which He gives to all without hesitation and with much love, and we are also urged to forgive one another, yet many of us often forget that while God wants to forgive us and love us once again, but it is we ourselves who are often the greatest obstacles to our forgiveness and therefore, our salvation.

Why is this so? We just have to look at the examples of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. These were the elites in the society back then at the time of Jesus and His earthly ministry two millennia ago. They were those who were considered as the nobilities and leaders of their time, and they were physically fit if not very healthy compared to the others in the society, well to do in their lives and were able to provide with themselves without any difficulties.

They looked down on others because they considered themselves superior to them, by their upbringing and by what they saw that they were the guardians of the law of God, the laws of Moses, wearing their long robes and chanting their prayers daily in the marketplaces and in the open areas. They thought that they alone had the grasp over God and His truth, and that was why they oppressed the poor, the sinners like the prostitutes and the tax collectors, thinking that these were people unworthy of God, but they were wrong.

They allowed their pride and arrogance to get in their way, and they closed their hearts when the Lord came to speak the truth to them. They forgot that they too, were sinners and were in need of God and His forgiveness as well. Instead, they committed even more sins, by closing the doors of God’s mercy on those who need them the most. They condemned others as sinners and rebels, while it was their attitude who showed the most rebellious attitudes of all.

They judged others by their appearances, and they also judged themselves by their appearances. But if they can just remember the Book of the prophet Samuel, when God chose His chosen king, David, from among the sons of Jesse, our first reading passage today, they would realise that God sees not by appearances, but He looks deep inside each and every one of our hearts. He knows us all completely inside and outside, and nothing can be hidden from Him.

It is not by our appearances that God had chosen those whom He wishes to call, and we do not choose ourselves to be those whom God will choose. Rather, God chooses whoever He wants to be chosen, and He calls those whom He deems to be worthy to be called. He called David not because he is the strongest or the best among his brothers, in whatever categories that the world commonly attribute to those who are usually chosen, but because God saw in David’s heart, mind and soul, a true and genuine love for Him.

That man who was born blind, might not be able to see the light through the eyes of his body, but the eyes of his heart was truly open and were capable of seeing the light of Christ, which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had failed to do. Now let us ask ourselves, have we been like David or the man born blind in our attitudes in this life we have? Or have we been more like the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law instead?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this time of Lent, we are all called to the Lord’s mercy, healing and forgiveness. But we need to overcome all the things that have become obstacles on our way to achieve God’s mercy and grace. We have to overcome our human pride, our fear and our stubbornness, and open the path for God to enter into our hearts and transform us completely.

Let Him enter into ourselves, and let Him heal us just as He had healed the man who was born blind, so that while once we saw everything through the veils of darkness and sin that had engulfed us, now we may be able to pierce through those veils that blinded us, and thus capable of seeing the true light coming from the Lord our God, and now therefore we are able to find our way to the salvation in God. Let us all have that great joy in us, finally being able to see the hope of salvation through Christ.

Let us also help one another, especially those who are still lost on their way to the Lord. Let us all devote our time and effort to draw ever closer to God, and to find the way to the Lord and to be more like Him in all of our words, deeds and actions. Let this be our Lenten commitment and work, and from now on let us all be ever more devoted servants and people of God, Who has loved us all so much, and wants us all to also love Him in the same manner. May God bless us all. Amen.

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