Sunday Readings & Reflections


FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Theme of Sunday A Person Who “Has Received the Light.”
The Christians of the first centuries used to call those who received Baptism during the Easter Vigil the “enlightened.” The theme of light is found in the three readings of today. The first reading tells us that whoever has not received the light judges things through human eyes; in reality he cannot see at all. The Gospel tells us how to reach the light. The second reading completes this theme by telling us what we should do to defeat darkness.

First Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1b.6-7.10-13a.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23:1-3a.3b-4.5.6 (R. 1).
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14.
Gospel: John 9:1-41.

Resources used:
*The Sunday Missal, Paulines Publications Africa
*Painting: Poster No. 51, Cross – by  S. Ajak Bullen



Sunday Readings

FIRST READING 1 Samuel 16:1b.6-7.10-13a

David is anointed king of Israel.
A reading from the first Book of Samuel

In those days: The Lord said to Samuel, “Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.

The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Psalm 23:1-3a.3b-4.5.6 (R. 1)

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me;
he revives my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me along the right path,
for the sake of his name.
Though I should walk in the valley of the shadow of death,
no evil would I fear, for you are with me.
Your crook and your staff will give me comfort.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You have prepared a table before me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for length of days unending.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

SECOND READING
Ephesians 5:8-14

“Arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians

Brethren: Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”
The word of the Lord.
John 8:12
Glory and praise to you, O Christ. I am the light of the world, says the Lord; he who follows me will have the light of life. Glory and praise to you, O Christ.
GOSPEL READING
John 9:1-41

“He went and washed and came back seeing.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

* At that time: As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth.* And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him. We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” As he said this, * he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, “Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he”; others said, “No, but he is like him.” He said, “I am the man.” *
They said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
* They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was a division among them. So they again said to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” * The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight, and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age, ask him.” So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?” And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshipper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
They answered him, * “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshipped him.*
Jesus said, “For judgement I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”

* The Gospel of the Lord. *

Shorter form: John 9:1.6-9.13-17.34-38. Read between *.


Sunday Reflections


4th SUNDAY OF LENT

JESUS : TRUE LIGHT FOR THE BELIEVER
JOHN 9:1-41

What are some of the signs that we are blind to God’s work?

(i) When the Blind “See”

In the Gospel of John, light is important as a symbol. Right from the beginning of the Gospel, the Word of God (Jesus) is presented as the light that comes into the world to illumine everything and everybody. This light struggles with darkness but is not overcome (In 1:5.9). As a result of the victory of light over darkness, those who accept the light through their faith in God are born anew as children of God (Jn 1:11-12). Just before he cures the blind man, Jesus affirms that he is the light of the world and that the ones who follow him will not walk in darkness (In 8:12). During the feast of Dedication of the Temple, when God’s presence is celebrated by an abundance of light Jesus will claim that he and the Father are one (In 10:30).

The healing of the blind man shows that real blindness is not so much the physical lack of sight, but rather the failure to believe that Jesus is the Anointed One (the Messiah) who has been sent by God. And there is much real blindness, starting with the disciples who think that the man is blind from birth because of some sin committed either by him or by his parents before his birth (Jn 9:2). His neighbours who heard that Jesus healed the man are not led immediately to seek him out and believe in him. Rather, they bring him to the Pharisees for questioning (In 9:8-15). For the Pharisees, the fact that the healing took place on the Sabbath was enough to discredit Jesus as a man of God. The healing does not lead them to desire to know Jesus better but provokes a furious refusal of the message along with the messenger. They insult Jesus and the healed man and eventually exclude him from the synagogue (In 9:34). When Jesus meets the healed man face to face he reveals himself to him. We can feel the full force of the irony. The Pharisees who had prepared themselves all these years for the Messiah of God are the truly blind (In 9:39-41). It is the one who was blind at the beginning who now sees who Jesus really is.
This Gospel reminds catechumens during their Lenten journey that only Jesus can heal their spiritual blindness. Jesus has to heal our blindness all the time.

(ii) Believing in the Midst of Opposition

The Gospels are different from newspaper reports of events. The miracle itself is not what interests the Gospel writer. It is told only in two verses (9:6-7). What is emphasised all along is the opposition the healed man meets, how he resists it and continues to confess Jesus with courage. To his neighbours who doubt him he confesses that the “man called Jesus” cured him (In 9:11). To the Pharisees who threaten him he confesses, “He is a prophet” (Jn 9: 17).

The situation of the blind man reflects the tensions within the Jewish community at the end of the first century when those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah were expelled from full participation in the synagogues (cf. 9:22; 16:2). Like the blind man, through their expulsion they come to see Jesus more and more as the “Son of Man” and confess him as “Lord” (Jn 9:35-38).

In some countries it is still dangerous to confess publicly that Jesus is Lord. The story of the blind man shows us that it is possible to confess one’s faith in such circumstances.

*Adapted from: “Bible Study and Sharing on the Gospel of Matthew for Christian Communities”, by Richard Baawobr M.Afr — Paulines Publications Africa, 2016.