THE 4TH SUNDAY of Lent is usually referred to as “Laetare Sunday.” That’s because the Entrance Antiphon of the Mass of that day starts with the word, “Laetare,” (Rejoice).
It reminds us that despite the heavy spirit of penance during the Lenten season in preparation for the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, there is actually a good reason for joy also, because if we truly enter into the spirit of Lent, joy and penance always go together.
The gospel of the day’s Mass talks to us about the cure of the man born blind. (cfr. Jn 9,1-41) It’s a long gospel that narrates a beautiful drama, the interplay of God’s power in Christ, God’s caring providence over us, and the kinds and levels of faith that people can have, and that also considers the strengths and weaknesses of men.
Christ was passing by and saw a man born blind. His disciples immediately asked if the blindness was due to the sins of the man or those of his parents. That was when Christ raised their perception and understanding of our earthly condition to the supernatural level.
“Neither he nor his parents sinned,” he said. “It is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” These words give us a great lesson for us to learn. Especially when we seem to be sinking with all the negative things in our life, we have to realize—and strengthen our belief in this truth of our faith—that God allows these negative things to happen to derive a greater good from them.
We have to learn then to be quick in referring all the negative things in our life to Christ, avoiding the tendency to be afraid or to be ashamed because of them, and much less, to feel desperate and hopeless. These negative things in our life should not separate us from God. Rather they should motivate us all the more to go to him, since it is only through him that a greater good can be derived from them.
In the case of that blind man in the gospel, because he allowed Christ to treat and cure him, his faith grew from something nominal and weak to something that was strong and powerful. He ended up worshipping Christ—truly a happy ending, indeed! This is what Christian joy is all about.
The gospel also portrayed the sad case of those who did not believe in Christ. Despite the direct evidence of the miracle, they still refused to believe in Christ as coming from God, because he cured the man on a Sabbath, a very narrow-minded kind of reasoning.
Thus, Christ said these very intriguing words: “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”
These words tell us that we can only see things properly when we have faith in God, in Christ. Christ said it also very clearly in the gospel: “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” We have to realize that unless we see things through Christ, we actually cannot see things as they ought to be seen. And seeing them that way certainly leads us to have joy and peace that the world cannot give, whatever the twists and turns of our life are here on earth. By Fr. Roy Cimagala (EV Mail March 13-19, 2023 issue)