Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Once you were in darkness

FOURTH SUNDAY IN LENT     Homily at STM - Toronto 
Laetare/ Mothering Sunday
March 30, 2014 

“Once you were in darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of the Light.”            Ephesians 5

Laetare or “Mothering Sunday” (as it is known in the English Catholic tradition) is a moment of light in the midst of the Lenten journey. Laetare means “be joyful” and comes from the incipit of the Introit Psalm at Mass, "Laetare Jerusalem" (O be joyful, Jerusalem).  

Traditionally the Church uses rose coloured vestments to focus on the joy that arises from the hope visible to all who will look for and see the mercy of God.

Our way of seeing, unaided by grace, is not God’s vision. The OT reading and the Gospel illustrate this for us today in reference to human vision.

First, by human estimation the elder sons of Jesse appear to be the candidates for the kingship but this vision is not in accord with the will of God and so is not the Vision of God

The light shines on David, the youngest and least likely candidate for kingship in the human view but God looks upon the heart and soul.

In the Gospel, Jesus shows us how a blind man comes to see but the Pharisees, those who claim to know the law and the right path, are blind. 

The blind man represents all humanity. “Born totally in sin”, as those around him say, Jesus helps him to become  a new creation through the saving power of God.

Scripture lyrically describes how God fashioned humanity from the clay of the earth as the poetry of Genesis tells us (Genesis 2:7). In parallel with this ancient story, Jesus gives the blind man new life by anointing his eyes with clay (John 9:11).

God breathed the spirit of life and movement into the first human (H’adam) and so the blind man is not healed until, moved by the Holy Spirit, he washes in the waters of Siloam, a name that means “Sent.”

Jesus is “sent” by God, the Father to do God’s will (John 9:4; 12:44) and with life-giving water, the Holy Spirit brings us into the Light at our Baptism ( John 4:10; 7:38-39).

In the Exodus story we see the Holy Spirit shedding light upon God’s chosen king, David.  A shepherd, like Moses before him (Exodus 3:1; Psalm 78:70-71), David is also a sign pointing to the Good Shepherd, the king who is coming – Jesus (John 10:11).

The Lord is our shepherd, we sing in Psalm 23. By his life, death and resurrection Jesus has made a path for us through the valley of the shadow of death, the valley of sin and despair, and so he leads us to the verdant pastures of the kingdom of light which is the Church, the Church Expectant and Triumphant.

In the waters of Baptism God refreshes our souls. He anoints our heads with the oil of Confirmation and spreads the Eucharistic table before us, filling our cups to overflowing. 

“My cup runneth over; surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the House of the Lord, forever.”   Ps 23

As Jesus called the man born blind to sight, we too are called into the light where we see by assured means of divine grace mediated to us in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confession and the Holy Eucharist. In Lent we are called to examine ourselves in the Light of the Lord and to confess our sins so that we can continue walking in the light of the resurrection.

We can say with the once-blind man as we enter God’s house to give praise and to renew our vows at Easter, we say with him:  I do believe, Lord.

“The Lord looks into the heart,” we hear today. Let Him find us, as St. Paul advises in today’s Epistle, living as “children of light” - trying always to learn what is pleasing to our Father.

1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13;
 Psalm 23:1-6; 
Ephesians 5:8-14; 
John 9:1-41

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