March 30, 2014 – The Fourth Sunday of Lent
“Not as a man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but God looks into the heart.” On this Fourth Sunday of Lent, which is also called Laetare Sunday, we are close to the middle of our 2014 Lenten journeys. This past Thursday was the actual “midpoint” of Lent this year, but this Sunday, as the closest to that, is a time set aside for us to “Rejoice!”
It is fitting that our readings for this Sunday point to important aspects of our faith that we need to recognize and embrace. Although each reading has significance by itself, all of them together bring us to a deeper understanding of what Lent is all about, and what we need to be doing to fulfill and complete our Lenten promises.
The first reading from First Samuel is the story of how David was chosen by God to be king. The Books of Samuel were written some 600 years before the birth of Christ, but as is usually the case with the Old Testament, it anticipates the New Testament. We need to acknowledge the fact that the name David means “beloved” in Hebrew. What an ideal anticipation of God declaring at Christ’s Baptism, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) David, of course, was rejected when it came to the initial selection, and he stayed in the fields with the sheep while his brothers were brought before Samuel. This, too, anticipated Jesus: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” (Matthew 21:42) We are reminded that our focus must be on Jesus Christ.
The preferred Psalm for this week is the 23rd Psalm. Is there another Psalm with which we are so familiar? “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose. Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.” In the middle of Lent we need that reassurance, that comfort, that reminder that God is with us.
Saint Paul takes us one more step on our journey in his letter to the Ephesians, our second reading. We are called to reflect the light of Christ, “Awake O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” To really reflect this light, however, we need to seek it, recognize it, and clasp it. That is what Lent is about. That is what stewardship is about — our willingness to see that it is time for us to be the light, time for us to commit ourselves to lives that take us closer to God and to holiness. Light is an important representation throughout Scripture; it tends to represent knowledge, wisdom, happiness, and holiness.
What a profound and beautiful story is found in the Gospel reading from John! We have to, as is frequently the case, look more deeply into what Jesus and Holy Scripture are telling us. We are told that the blind man whom Jesus cures has been blind since birth. This makes this miracle even more powerful. Jesus often healed the blind, but the fact that this man has never seen makes the healing even greater. Just as God revealed in the reading from Samuel that He looks beyond the obvious, into the heart, Jesus does the same in this instance. This man could not see Christ, but Christ could see him; in fact, Christ could look into the depths of his heart. Christ came into the world to give sight to those who are spiritually blind — to us. On this Laetare Sunday, we need to rejoice, to take the light of Christ given us by Christ, and to share it and spread it through stewardship with everyone we know and everyone we meet.