Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN CATECHUMENS PREPARE FOR BAPTISM AND EUCHARIST
- 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13
- Psalm 22. R. v. 1
- Ephesians 5:8-14
- John 9:1-41
Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. The 4th Sunday of Lent is also known as “rejoice” or “joyful” Sunday, because we are more than half way through to Easter! Next Sunday will be the 5th Sunday of Lent, and the Sunday after next Sunday will be Passion or Palm Sunday, to be followed by Easter Sunday!
Lent is a time when catechumens prepare to receive the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist on Easter Vigil Night and on Easter Sunday Morning!
The readings today tell us about the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist! The gospel and the second reading tell us about Baptism. The first reading and the responsorial psalm tell us about Eucharist.
The gospel today is on the curing of the blind man, and this is to illustrate the theme of the gospel, that is, Jesus Christ is the light of the world: “I am the light of the world”! (John 9:5) The gospel acclamation indicates the theme of the gospel: “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life”! (John 8:12)
In the New Testament, light symbolizes 3 things: (1) Anything that shows us the way to God. (2) Life and happiness. (3) Good over evil. (NJB, John 8:12b)
- In the New Testament light symbolizes anything that leads us to God. In the Old Testament it was the Law, the Wisdom and the Word of God, but in the New Testament it is Jesus Christ that leads us to God!
- In the New Testament light also symbolizes life and happiness, contentment and joy, as opposed to darkness, which symbolizes death, unhappiness, and misery. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the life and joy!
- In the New Testament light also symbolizes good over evil, and God over the Devil! In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the good that overcomes evil, and the God who overcomes the Devil!
In sum, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the light that leads us to God, Jesus Christ is the light that gives us life and joy, and Jesus Christ is the light that overcomes evil with good!
The Church has chosen the gospel reading of today to tell us about Baptism, to tell us that in Baptism, Jesus Christ shows us the way to God the Father, in Baptism, Jesus Christ gives us life and joy, and in Baptism, Jesus Christ overcomes the evil in us with good!
The second reading from the letter to the Ephesians also tells us about Baptism. The second reading tells us to live the light of Baptism, that is, to live a life of complete goodness, right living, and truth, and to have nothing to do with the works of darkness!
In fact, the second reading ends with a Baptismal hymn: “Wake up from your sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you”! (Ephesians 5:14)
The first reading and the responsorial psalm tell us about the Eucharist. The first reading from the first book of Samuel tells us that David was anointed the Shepherd-King of Israel! There is a difference between a shepherd-king and a king! A shepherd-king is like a shepherd who protects his sheep and feeds his sheep! David the Shepherd-King of Israel is a prefigure of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ is the Shepherd-King par excellence, that is, the best of its kind, who protects and feeds us with his body and blood in the Eucharist!
That is why the responsorial psalm is on the Lord, as the good shepherd (stanzas 1 & 2), and on the Lord as the host of a banquet (stanzas 3 & 4)!
Stanzas 1 & 2 tell us that the Lord is the Good Shepherd: ‘The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want (or need). Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me to revive my drooping spirit. If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and staff to give me comfort’! (Psalm 22:1-4)
Stanzas 3 & 4 tell us that the Lord is the host of a banquet: ‘You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my enemies. You have anointed my head with oil (sign of hospitality). My cup is overflowing. Goodness and kindness will follow me everyday of my life (the blessings of God). In the Lord’s own house (temple) will I live forever and ever’! (Psalm 22:5-6)
During this time of Lent, the Church asks our catechumen brothers and sisters to pray, fast, and give alms, to prepare themselves to receive the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist at Easter! The Church also asks all of us who have already been baptized to pray, fast, and give alms, to prepare ourselves to renew our Baptism at Easter! A Happy Lent to all of you! Amen!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.