Theme: JESUS CHRIST IS THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD: THE LIGHT OF FAITH, LIFE AND GOOD
- 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13;
- Psalm 22 (23): R/ v. 1;
- Ephesians 5:8-14
- Jn 9:1-41 (Shorter Form, verses 1. 6-9. 13-17. 34-38)
Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year B, but we use the readings from Year A, because there will be Baptisms on Easter Vigil Night! Last Sunday the readings told us about the “water” of Baptism. This Sunday the readings tell us about the “light” of Baptism. The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is “the light of the world” (Jn 9:5).
Light in the New Testament basically symbolizes three things: (1) Light symbolizes faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness. (2) Light symbolizes life and happiness as opposed to death and misery which is darkness. (3) Light symbolizes good as opposed to evil which is darkness.
More importantly, the three themes are related, that is, when we have faith in God, we receive life from God, and we do good works! But when we do not believe in God, we experience death and we do evil!
Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil! God will overcome the Devil!
In the gospel today, light symbolizes faith. The gospel today tells us that the cured blind man had faith and his faith grew! At first he saw Jesus as a man, then as a prophet and finally he worshipped Jesus as Lord! The unbelief of the Pharisees on the other hand got from bad to worse! At first they did not believe that Jesus was from God, and then they did not even believe that the man was born blind, and finally they believed that Jesus was a sinner!
We have to renew our faith every year, so that our faith will increase like that of the cured blind man! If we do not renew our faith every year, our faith will decrease like that of the Pharisees! That is why every Easter Vigil Night we stand with candles lighted from the big Easter candle which symbolizes “Christ our Light”; and we renew our faith by answering “I do” to the six questions of faith, three rejecting Satan who tempts us against our faith, and three questions professing our faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! After that the priest will sprinkle us with the “water” of baptism! +
In the “Gospel Acclamation” light symbolizes life, contentment and happiness as opposed to darkness which symbolizes death, unhappiness and misery. (NJB) Thus we read in the “Gospel Acclamation”:
“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12; SM)
In the second reading, light symbolizes good as opposed to darkness which symbolizes evil. Thus we read in the second reading:
“You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.” (Ep 5: 8-9; SM)
Again, good will overcome evil! So overcome evil with good! Do not overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good, says St Paul!
Besides the “light” of Baptism, the gospel also tells us about the anointing with oil and the washing with water in Baptism. Thus we read in the gospel today:
“Jesus spat on the ground, made a paste with the spittle, put this over the eyes of the blind man (anointing) and said to him, ‘Go and wash in the Pool of Siloam’ (a name that means ‘sent’). So the blind man went off and washed himself (baptism), and came away with his sight restored (light).” (Jn 9: 6-7; SM)
On Easter Vigil Night, our catechumens will receive the sacrament of Baptism, but some of our catechumens will receive all the three sacraments of initiation, that is, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist! And in that proper order!
For practical and pastoral reasons we have changed the order, that is, Baptism at birth, Eucharist at the age of about seven and Confirmation at the age of about fourteen.
Early this month a bishop from America told the Pope in Rome that he has reversed the order back to the original order and our Pope Benedict XVI praised him for doing so! (Internet, Catholic World News (CWN), March 09, 2012) Maybe one day we too will reverse the order back to the original order! We follow the original order of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist on Easter Vigil Night!
The first reading tells us about the sacrament of Confirmation. Thus we read in the first reading:
“Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on.” (1 S 16:13; SM)
In Baptism we were born again in the Holy Spirit, but in Confirmation we are strengthened in the Holy Spirit! Confirmation completes the process begun at Baptism, and Eucharist completes the three “sacraments of initiation”!
The responsorial psalm tells us about the Eucharist! The responsorial psalm is on the “Good Shepherd”, but the second part of the psalm, that is, stanzas three and four, is on “the host of the messianic banquet”! (vv. 5-6; NJB) Thus stanza three of the psalm:
“You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (Ps 22 (23): 5; SM)
The “messianic banquet” of the Old Testament anticipates the Eucharist of the New Testament where we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood! And the Eucharist anticipates the “messianic banquet” in heaven!
During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor, not to punish us for our sins; but to help us grow in faith, to prepare us to receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Today is also “Rejoice” Sunday or “Joyful” Sunday, because we are more than half way through Lent to Easter! A blessed Lent to all of you!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.