Sunday, 22 March 2020 : Fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Rose or Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the fourth Sunday in the season of Lent, also known as the Laetare Sunday, which came from the Introit of this Sunday which goes like this, ‘Laetare Jerusalem, et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam…’ or ‘Rejoice o Jerusalem, and come together all you who love her…’. And here we gather together this Sunday looking forward to the wonderful joy that is to come, the reason why we have the rose coloured vestments this Sunday.

Just like Gaudete Sunday during the season of Advent before Christmas, on this Sunday we have a brief pause of the penitential nature of this Lenten season to focus on the more joyful aspect of our expectation for the coming of the glorious season of Easter, just as Gaudete Sunday expects the coming joy of Christmas. That is why on this day we ought to focus our attention on the Lord, to keep our gaze affixed on Him, knowing that everything we do in this Lent, all of our penitential rites and customs, practices and works are to purify us before we rejoice together with Him, having been reconciled with Him in love.

In today’s readings therefore, there is this emphasis on us all having received healing from God, and for those who are in need of healing and God’s grace, it is reassured and promised to us as a certainty as long as we are open and willing to receive this wonderful grace of God. That is why today we focus our attention on the joy that is to come in Easter to help in keeping us focused in the right direction, knowing that we are in God’s good hands despite whatever challenges we may be facing now.

In our first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard of the story of the anointing of the new king of Israel, in which God had chosen one of the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem. Samuel was presented with six of his sons in the beginning, and while initially he saw that the eldest son was good in stature and appearance, but God told Samuel that He had chosen through what He has seen in the heart and not in the appearances. And that was how David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, a simple and young shepherd, was chosen and anointed as king of Israel.

David was a steadfast and firm believer in God, who loved God with all of his heart. Since his youth, David had been devout and committed to God, and after he had been chosen and anointed as king of Israel as the successor to king Saul, David had shown his faith and his upright attitude and actions in most of the circumstances. Yes, as a mortal man, David did make mistakes and he did commit some serious sins, such as his adultery with Bathsheba and his hubris in the census of Israel, but ultimately, his faith and love for God never changed.

The significance of this reading is to show that God sees in us the light present within all of us, including what He had seen in David. There is inherent good in all of us since after all, every single one of us are God’s good creations although tainted by sin. By God’s grace and help, all of us can follow in the example of king David, whom God had called and chosen, and king David allowed God to work through him, committing many wonderful deeds as king over the Israelites, in faith and obedience to God.

In our second reading, again we are reminded through St. Paul’s letter to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus that we ought to become children of the light in all things. St. Paul mentioned that while once we belonged to the darkness, now through God, we have belonged to the light, and we ought to act in the manner of the follower of God’s light. God is our guide and Shepherd, just as our Psalm today on the famous Good Shepherd Psalm reminds us that God is leading us as our Shepherd to the good and righteous path.

Through sin and darkness, all of us have been corrupted, tainted and afflicted, but God wants us all to be healed and liberated from our sins, and He alone has the power and ability to do so. In our Gospel passage we heard of the story of how the Lord Jesus healed a man who had been born blind, and suffered from that blindness for so many decades. Yet, through his faith in the power of the Lord Jesus, he was healed completely, his eyes opened and his sight restored, a great miracle of God, but one which was protested and contested by the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law.

The blind man was healed by Jesus and he could see again, and yet, the Pharisees and some of the teachers of the Law could not believe that the blind man had been healed, and not by the Lord Jesus Whom the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law then treated as a pariah and One that is not welcome in the Temple, because of the friction and difficulties that arose as the Lord ministered to the people and healed many of them, even on the Sabbath day which the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law vigorously defended as a day on which nothing including good deeds could be done.

Thus, these people gathered the people and conducted a trial over the blind man, as they doubted that he had been healed by Jesus, and then they even doubted that he had been born blind or blind at all. And they kept on asking the blind man for the details of his healing, repeatedly, showing that they still stubbornly refused to believe that Jesus could have healed the blind man. To them, Jesus was a sinner for His disobedience against their way of observing the Law, and a sinner could not have healed another person.

They even then became nasty against the blind man and angered against him, condemning and judging him as a sinner, as they were offended and their pride was hurt by the formerly blind man’s suggestion that they kept on asking him because they were interested to become the disciples of Jesus. This is exactly the problem that we need to take heed of, the matter of pride and ego that prevented so many of us from finding forgiveness for our many sins and our salvation in God.

In this season of Lent, as we focus our attention today on the Lord and on this joyful hope of His salvation and also on our own inner light and goodness, all of us are called to purge from ourselves all sorts of pride and ego, all hubris and hard-heartedness that the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had, which made them to be ‘spiritually blind’, as they were ignorant of the truth of God even when they had seen and witnessed for themselves for more than a few occasions, what the Lord had done for His people through Christ.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to open our hearts and minds to welcome the Lord with humility like that of the blind man? Pride kept us away from being able to seek God’s forgiveness, and we ought to be humble, realising that we need God’s healing and forgiveness for our sins. And then, are we able and willing to seek God for healing, that He may bless us and forgive us from our many sins, purifying ourselves from our corrupted state due to our sins? Let us seek to be God’s children, worthy and as bright children of the light, rejecting the darkness of sin, for the righteousness and faith in God. Our true joy and happiness is in the Lord, Our God and Saviour, and it is Him that we ought to look towards and focus our attentions on.

As we look forward towards the glorious joy of Easter, let us all renew our efforts to be ever closer to God, to be more devoted in each and every moments of our lives from now on. Let us deepen our relationship with God and be righteous and good in all of our actions and deeds. Let us be more loving and charitable towards our fellow brothers and sisters, and let us all be generous in caring for the needs of those who are needy, poor, unloved and rejected by others. Let us share the joy of Christ with one another, and hope that one day we may glorify God together and be worthy of God and His eternal kingdom as we enter into the new and heavenly Jerusalem.

May the Lord be with us always, and may He continue to strengthen us with faith and the resolve to live our lives daily, that we may walk ever faithfully in His path, and draw ever closer to His grace. May God bless us all and all of our good works and endeavours, now and always. Amen.

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