Lectionary Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A

Lectionary Readings: 1Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a / Ps 23 / Eph 5:8-14 / Jn 9:1-41

The way human beings sees things is not the same way God would see things. I think this is the overall theme of this Sunday’s Lectionary readings.

In the first reading, we read of the calling of David to be king. Out of all the sons of Jesse, David the shepherd boy is called to be king. A shepherd boy…a king? In the eyes of the secular world, today and even the past, a typical image of the king is one who bears masculine qualities, likely rich and probably a man with some good educational background… qualities in which a shepherd boy would not likely have. Yet, God chose David out of all of his brothers to be king. Similar callings are very much evident in Scripture. God chose Moses, a man “slow of speech and slow of tongue” (Ex 4:10) to be his “spokesman” (see Ex 3-4). In the New Testament, Jesus chooses to surround himself with the lowest, uneducated and disregarded people in society such as fishermen (see Mt 4:18-22 and Mk 1:16-20) and tax collectors (see Mt 9:9-13 and Lk 19:1-10).

While society may see them as the lowliest in society, God sees beyond someone’s career, successes or failures. The qualities people look fore are merely façades. God looks deep into one’s soul to the point that, “nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.” (Lk 12:2) I don’t know if you’ve seen Peter Finch’s 1959 film The Nun’s Story – one of my favourite movies. In the movie, the Superior Mother Emmanuel told those in the novitiate, “You can easily cheat us, your Sisters, but you cannot cheat yourself or God.” God is all knowing and while ourselves and the world may think we have limits to our potential, in one way or another… in mysterious ways God will open our eyes to new things. Sometimes it may be a revelation to see a new gift that we have to share with others, or sometimes it may be a bad habit that we have that blinds us from living up to our potential of our Christian lives.

Yet the question is posed in today’s Gospel: are we willing to let God open our eyes to see things in a new lens? Or are we stubborn and let our ego take over ourselves and continue to let is blind us from new ways? In the Gospel today, we are presented with a a blind man in which Jesus comes across. Jesus seems to do half of the miracle. However, like with many miracles in the Bible, Jesus asks the man to actively take part in it, as Jesus says to the man, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” (Jn 9:7)

Now, while we hear this Gospel either every three years or casually on our own time, I don’t know if we really reflect on this – but, Jesus, by telling the blind man to go wash his eyes, present him with a choice. The man could have stayed put and stay blind the rest of his life. But instead, he stood up, washed his eyes in order to see.

Jesus presents us with that choice every day. Unfortunately, we sometimes choose to stay in the darkness of sin, a darkness of stubborness. Our ego stops us from allowing ourselves to see things in the eyes of God, simply because living by our ego is really easy – we do things the way we want and the way we feel, thus, relativism arises. Living by our ego takes no thought at all, everything is based on ourselves, subjective to ourselves. To look through the eyes of God, to get rid of our ego and embrace something new is something that takes thought, discernment and ultimately courage, especially in a world that appreciates the rise of relativism.

To look through the eyes of God is to live as “children of light.” (Eph 5:8) It is to humble ourselves and recognize that “The Lord is my Shepherd.” (Ps 23:1) When we take on the eyes of God, we put God at the centre of our lives and we have a wider, charitable perspective on things. It is to recognize that yes, I fail, but I am willing to change for the glory of God and his Church, and also for the well-being of our brothers and sisters. When we take on the eyes of God, we see the lowliest of our society as our brothers and sisters in which we are called to care for them, to embrace them into the inner circles of society.

With this Sunday, we reach the halfway point of Lent and for many and I know this has been a very different Lent for most Catholics around the world. We have been prompted to really take on God’s eyes and live out charity towards out brothers and sisters. Rather than seeing this pandemic and its effects as a time of doom and gloom, let use this time to live out today’s Gospel. I hope by the end of this Lent, we will be able to be more caring, considerate and charitable people than previous Lents.

Besides, today is Laetare Sunday. Despite what’s happening in the world, let us be reminded that the rose vestments that the clergy wears for the celebration for their (private) liturgies today be a reminder for us to REJOICE – rejoice that God has been with us through every generation and even in the toughest times and gives us a nudge to look through his eyes, gives us an invitation to be “children of light”, giving us another chance to be charitable people.

Meanwhile let us pray, “Open the eyes of my heart, Lord.”


About Vincent Pham

Vincent is a humanities student of the University of Toronto’s Trinity College of the Faculty of Arts and Science. He hopes to pursue a double major in Ethics, Law and Society, and Philosophy.
This entry was posted in Catholic Reflection, Catholicism, Lectionary Reflections, Lent, Mission, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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