March 22, 2020 – 4th Sunday of Lent – Laetare Sunday
Click here for the readings (http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032220.cfm)
What do we see now as our global community or just our local community is facing the Pandemic Corona Virus? We are anxious, fearful, tensed and panicking. Medical practitioners are quite helpless as there is no vaccine yet to fight the virus. Government leaders are struggling on how to combat this enemy and to protect and bring to safety the population.
However, despite the anxiety and the fear that we feel in these difficult times this should not prevent us from becoming positive about life and about our relationships with one another. This Fourth Sunday of Lent also known as Laetare Sunday means “Rejoice.” This calls us to hope and gives encouragement as we all face this crisis and at the same time praying for God’s mercy to deliver us from this pandemic and to bring us to celebrate fully the joy of Easter.
Brothers and Sisters, may I invite you then that we discover together God’s invitation for us this Sunday, that we may be able to see as God sees in the time of COVID-19.
In the first reading from the Book of Samuel, the Prophet felt the responsibility of finding a new king for Israel. The people needed a leader and so Samuel carried this burden. However, in his search for the new king he was struggling to find the right one because God rejected those Samuel thought to be fitting. But then, God confronted Samuel of his tendency. In his search for the new king, Samuel was merely looking at human appearance, to what was only pleasing to human eyes, and to what was easy for human comfort. God told Samuel to see as God sees, to look into the heart of a person.
This tells us that even Prophet Samuel was somehow blinded by his own preferences and biases. God had to confront Samuel so that he will be healed from that kind of blindness. Indeed, when Samuel saw as God saw, David was chosen as king, the unexpected young man.
The Gospel story according to John tells us also this scenario of a blind man who was seen by Jesus as he was passing by. In this story, the blind man did not ask Jesus to heal him unlike the other miracle stories in the Gospels. It was the initiative of Jesus to heal this man who was blind since birth.
Now, the common belief at that time was that when a person is stricken with some kind of illness, it must be a punishment for sins committed by the person or by his/her parents. This kind of belief adheres to that idea that God is a God of punishment, a terrifying and angry God. However, as Jesus said, God’s power will be manifested through the blindness of this man.
And true enough, through Jesus’ concern and compassion towards this blind man, he healed him from his physical blindness. However, healing this blind man physically was just the beginning of another healing. The man now can see as other people see, but not yet as God sees. The physical healing of that man became the space where this man could encounter and meet Jesus. Indeed, through the man’s encounter with Jesus, the man saw and met God. There was spiritual insight, a spiritual healing from spiritual blindness through Jesus’ invitation to the man to believe, meaning to have faith. This was an invitation to the man to see as God sees.
Certainly, the man believed! This was what made him different from the Pharisees who refused to believe. They have seen and met Jesus yet, their spiritual blindness was too great that their own eyes could not see God who was just in their midst.
Hence, these people continued to reject Jesus, and so rejected God. Like Samuel at the beginning, the Pharisees saw what surrounds them in their own eyes only. They never heeded the call to see as God sees.
Each of us now is also invited “to see as God sees.” We are called to look beyond imperfections, beyond ugliness, beyond sins and beyond crisis and see God and discover His invitations for us.
This calls us for discernment, for a deeper reflection so that we will be able to see and recognize how God reveals himself even in difficult situations. As we are advised to stay home, this is a call, then, for us to see more and to appreciate better the gifts of our families, of your wife, of your husband, of your children, the gift of your friends and relatives, the gift of community, the gift of your work and profession. And because Public Masses and other Church activities are being suspended now, it is surely a call for us also to have a better appreciation and devotion to our sacraments that are physically deprived from the public.
Yes, this very situation for us now calls us to discover the things, experiences, relationships and people that we have not seen before or we have not appreciated or we have just taken for granted.
To see more by healing our blindness and expanding our vision, then, hopefully, the more we see Jesus in our life and in the lives of our brothers and sisters. In this way, this may generously move us to bring healing for others in whatever capacity we are capable of. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR