The Fourth Sunday of Lent is traditionally known as Laetare Sunday. It marks the halfway point in our Lenten journey. The priest is able to wear rose–colored vestments which are symbols of the anticipated joy of the upcoming Easter season.
The readings focus on the theme of light and sight. We need light in order to see clearly. When it is dark, a candle or flashlight guides our way. As we age, our eyes dim and prevent us from seeing clearly. That is why many people need bright lights to read better. I used to have cataracts which are like a film that covered my eyes. After my surgery 10 years ago, the world appeared brighter. My eyes were more sensitive to the sun. However, a happy by-product of the surgery is that I am now able to read outside in the sun without my prescription glasses.
The man born blind (Jn 9:1-41) never experienced sight until Jesus healed him. But more importantly, his faith was awakened by his encounter with Jesus. That is the real miracle for which all of us should hope. St. Paul (Eph 5:8-14) reminds us to be children of the light. In the first reading, God reminds Samuel (1 Sam 16:1, 6-7, 10-13) to see as God sees and to judge not on appearance but on inner qualities. In other words, God calls each of us to look with the eyes of faith.
Just as we are unable to see in the darkness unless we are given light, when we are spiritually “dark” we need the light of faith to guide us. The man born blind was not only physically blind, he was also spiritually blind. Yet, because he trusted in God, his faith in Jesus allowed him to be healed. In contrast, the Pharisees were also spiritually blind, but they chose to ignore their faith and failed to trust in God; therefore, they remained in their “dark” condition.
Notice also how the man was cured of his blindness by washing in the Pool of Siloam which means “sent.” After being given his sight, the man was sent to be a missionary of sorts proclaiming the praises of God. So too for each of us: When we have been healedof our spiritual blindness, we are sent as ambassadors of Christ in order to do good things. Paul’s reminder “Awake, o sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light,” is a challenge to us to go forth and proclaim the Good News in word and action.
During this fourth week of Lent ask yourselves these questions: “In what areas am I spiritually blind?” and “If my sight is restored, what am I sent to do?”