Thursday, March 27, 2014

"I am the light of the world."

This Fourth Sunday of Lent’s Gospel is about the cure of a blind man—and about the blindness of those who think they can see. Our Discussion Questions will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Light and darkness

The drama of John 9, the Man Born Blind, is the story of a simple man open to God’s presence and arrogant men who cannot see the Christ standing right before them. But the blind man is going to be an instrument of God’s power. Fr. Orlando Sapuay, M.S. says this blind person has just as much a role to play as you or me or anyone.

It is simple, Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains. Jesus has given depth of sight to a man born blind. In this, the works of God have been made seeable. This is why the man was blind in the first place, Jesus tells us. Does the man accept this? “I do believe, Lord,” he says. His heart had been healed, in addition to his physical eyes. Through healing he comes into the light in two senses: literally, since his sight was restored; and spiritually, since he was given the gift of faith. Of course, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS points out, it is this gift of faith which concerns us most of all.

Like the blind man who refused to deny what he saw, what he experienced, we need to be passionate witnesses to Jesus Christ. And so this Sunday, Fr. Phil Bloom tells us, we ask Jesus for sight: to see those near us - their heart, not just their appearance - and above all to see the reality of who Jesus is.

The Greater Tragedy

The tragedy greater than all others is to be blind and to say that we can see. Father Cusick says there are so many areas where we are perilously blind to the ways in which our actions, words, thoughts and desires have jeopardized our eternal salvation. We can identify with Jesus, or with the beggar in this story. But Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. points out that most Christians would not think of identifying with those who refused to see the light and thus become hardened in their blindness.

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino observes that little has changed in the world. You go to work, to school, and the so-called intellectuals belittle you because you are a person of faith. We cannot allow others to put us down for our faith. We know what matters in life. We are reminded of the saying “seeing is believing.” College student Lauren Butler reminds us that in the case of God, not seeing but believing is what is important. That is faith.

Moving Through Lent

This marvelous Gospel story is really about seeing the face of Jesus, experiencing his healing powers, and acknowledging Him for whom He really is. And that according to Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB , is as the Lord and Savior who has come into the world. And that is why this long story is presented during Lent, the time of preparation. You and I will behold a still greater healing at Easter. And we need to start washing out our eyes to see it. Christ is risen, though we might not see him! We don't always notice spring. The miraculous doesn't force itself on us. It's there, there to be seen, explains Fr. Ron Rolheiser.

And so as Lent moves along, into our ears the Messiah whispers, "Do amaze me in the three weeks left in this Lent with your generosity to my poor. Do it without calling attention to yourself." Fr. James Gilhooley says the poor are not hard to find. The New York Times reports 20% of US children live in poverty and 47 million US workers lack a living wage.

Finally, Marcellino D'Ambrosio reflects on the actions Jesus performed upon the blind man. He spits in the dirt, makes a paste of mud, and smears it on the eyes of the poor man, commanding his disciples to wash off the paste in the Pool of Siloam. Why did Jesus choose to do it this way? Jesus' action is a sign of the whole sacramental economy of the Church He established. Physical symbols come to contain what they symbolize and transmit what they contain.

Laetare Sunday, Lent and Prayer

What Is Laetare Sunday? Laetare Sunday is the popular name for the Fourth Sunday in Lent. Because the midpoint of Lent is the Thursday of the third week of Lent, Laetare (Latin for Rejoice) Sunday has traditionally been viewed as a day of celebration. So this Sunday, the austerity of Lent in our Catholic Church is briefly lessened.

Every year at the beginning of Lent, Taylor Marshall is encouraged and excited about fasting and penance. However after a few weeks, he starts to grow weary of them. So in order to remind himself of why we're keeping Lent, here are more reflections on what Bible teaches about fasting and self-denial. And if you're one of those who struggle with not knowing what to "do" when they pray. Msgr. Charles Pope recommends the Our Father as a prayer that gives us more than just words to say. It is one that gives us a structure for our prayer life, a basic plan for our spiritual life.

Doubt, Spirituality & Sacred Tradition

Three years ago, Japn went through the most devastating tsunami. Many look for the face of God after tragedies. We bring back  the message that Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles said at the time: In this life, we will never know why our loving God permits catastrophes that cause such pain and suffering to the innocent. Over the centuries, this question has haunted our human imagination. And each time we struggle with doubt, Mark Shea tells us that "suggestion" is one of the great weapons that the devil uses against us. The devil has no actual truth on his side in making the case that God does not exist or is evil or uncaring, so he has to rely on illusion to sell that lie.

Considering that most Catholics are under-Catechized, the Church is doing all they can to clear up the confusion. Mark Shea pitches in to help by answering an important question form one such confused reader. She asks, "If the Church relies on Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, both written and unwritten, what exactly does that Sacred Tradition look like?" Mark begins his answer with this: "Sacred Tradition is the common life, worship and teaching of the Catholic faith. You can read about the basics of what it is and how it relates to Scripture (which is the written aspect of the Tradition) by going down to paragraph 100 of the Catechism."

Bo Sanchez answers even more questions from readers: What’s the best way to bring your family and friends to God? What’s the best way to be spiritually contagious? He proposes three simple but powerful steps - Step 1: Friend Them. Step 2: Serve Them. Step 3: Guide Them.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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