19 Mar 2023 – 4th Sunday of Lent, Year A
19 Mar 2023 – 4th Sunday of Lent, Year A
(1) 1 Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13
Samuel selects and anoints young David as future king of Israel
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.” Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.”
Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.”
Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.
Responsorial: Psalm 22
R./: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want
The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures
where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me,
to revive my drooping spirit. (R./)
He guides me along the right path;
he is true to his name.
If I should walk in the valley of darkness
no evil would I fear.
You are there with your crook and your staff;
with these you give me comfort. (R./)
You have prepared a banquet for me
in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing. (R./)
Surely goodness and kindness shall follow me
all the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for ever and ever. (R./)
(2) Ephesians 5:8-14
Once you were in darkness, but now live as children of light
For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light, for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Gospel: John 9:1-41
Jesus, Light of the World, cures the man who was born blind
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, “Go to Siloam and wash.” Then I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”
The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask himself.”
So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see,” your sin remains.
Open the eyes of my soul, Lord
It’s hard to know why Jesus went through the ritual of the spittle, the mud, and the water, in order to heal the man. He healed other blind people with a touch, or simply a word. It might well have been a test of faith. He sent the ten lepers on their way, and they were healed as they journeyed along. He sent the centurion home and, before he reached home he got word that his servant was healed. I often think that this is how Jesus heals many of us. We ask for his healing, and nothing seems to happen immediately. Maybe, after asking for his healing, we should go on our way, and expect to notice the healing taking place gradually as time goes by.
As the story unfolds, we notice that the man’s eyes were really opened, and that includes the eyes of his soul. Clearly Jesus was intent on healing the total person, or not at all. We don’t imagine him healing someone, and then having that person going away still filled with resentment against another. Such a person was not really healed at all. The man in today’s gospel was totally healed, and he ended up on his knees, worshipping Jesus.
A practical and simple prayer is “Lord, that I may see.” It is a short prayer, but when it comes from the depths of my heart, it is a powerful prayer. Remember that other blind man named Bartimeus? He was told that Jesus was passing by, and he was determined to get his attention. Those around him tried to silence him, but he shouted all the louder. And he also was cured. To another man Jesus asked the pointed question, “Do you want to be healed?’
The greatest good we can do for others is not by giving them money, though that can also be needed at times, but in revealing their own riches to them. It is good to affirm others and make them feel both loved and worthwhile. Many people have grown up with a poor self-image, and they just cannot see the good in themselves. This is another form of blindness, and it is a blindness in others that any one of us can heal. The most certain proof that the Spirit of God lives in you is your willingness and ability to affirm and bring a blessing to other people.
Irrespective of what people say, keep following God’s will.
“The Lord said to Samuel, ‘How long will you grieve over Saul?'”:
This is like our God questioning us “How long will you grieve over your past?” The past is past. Let us do what is needed for our future. Many times we worry over our past mistakes and wonder what we will do in future. But God has made a big plan for us and is waiting for us to walk through it. If we continue regretting the past then we cannot live our present too. We will continue regretting our present days also in the future.
Our Lord Jesus said in John 16:33: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” We can pray about everything and worry about nothing. When you are worried, not knowing what to do, say to God, “Lord, I know that you have a better plan for me at this moment, please show me what should be done”. Jesus is sincere. He will guide you in some way. God has not created us to live our lives without His support. That is why He has given us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not living within us to watch whether we are living our life correctly. He is always there to guide us. So why not start living a worry free life? Our problem is not only ours, it is God’s also. As God had a next plan – David for Samuel, He will also show us a new path. Cast your care willingly on Lord Jesus and rely on Him.
“..the Lord looks on the heart”:
When people reject you, be happy, it is the time the Lord notices you. Jesse chose seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. Samuel chose a good looking person in his mind as God’s choice. But God rejected all of their choices. For He was looking for a loving heart. In Israel there were people of many skills, scholars, good administrators and so on. But God rejected all of them. He longed to see only a heart longing for Him.
The more you are rejected, it is an indication that the Lord has a special assignment for you.
Let us pray like David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me”. – Psalm 51.
“Live as children of light”:
Our Lord Jesus is the light and He has told us “You are the light of the world”. It means that we need to follow the life of our Lord Jesus. Then our lives will become examples for others. We are called by His name “Christ-ians”, so we represent Him on this earth. There was a girl who became Christian in a Christian minority region. She testified, “The first reason which drew me towards our Lord Jesus Christ is the pure life of my Christian friends”. If each one of us fully represents Christ, then everyone in the world will be a Christian.
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”:
When some people undergo terrific tribulations, many people mark them as “sinners”. They say that either that person, or his parents or his great grandparents have sinned, that is why they are undergoing such a huge crisis in their lives. Our Lord Jesus specifically made these incidents to happen and be recorded so that He could invalidate all these remarks. God can never allow a new born baby to carry the sins of his family. That is why Jesus bore all of them on a cross.
Then why are the special children born like the blind child in this passage?:
Jesus answers, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him”.
Parents of this blind person were taking care of their special kid, with whatever their hands could do. It resembles the moment in Job’s story “God asked the devil, Did you see my son Job? Is there any fault in him?” Likewise looking at every special child or special parent, our good God is asking the devil, “Did you see my child? Even though he is in huge agony, he is still worshipping me? He still fights the fierce battles trusting in me…”
Special children fulfill the purpose of their parent’s lives.
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided.
We read that the Pharisees were finding fault with Jesus since He did not observe the sabbath law. They were blind to God’s love. Then they were divided among themselves, because some Pharisees could reason if not from God, who can perform such signs? But all these did not bother our Lord Jesus. He never focussed on pleasing people. He continued doing God’s will.
“If this man were not from God, he could do nothing”:
When his parents were afraid and did not testify for Jesus, the blind person testified for him. He was not afraid of testifying for our Lord Jesus though he understood the dire consequences. He argued with the Pharisees so eloquently that the Pharisees did not know how to withstand his arguments. They drove him out.
While the blind person could see God’s love, the Pharisees were still blind to God’s love.
“Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”:
When the blind person was driven out, Jesus came searching for Him and found Him. If we are rejected, our Lord Jesus will search for us and find us.
If the world abandons us, Jesus will be with us.