Homily for 4th Sunday of Lent, 26 March 2017

4th Sunday of Lent, 26 March 2017;John 9:1-41. DMB.

From ‘A Man for All Seasons’ by Robert Bolt.

St Thomas More (after being the victim of blatant perjury): If I had really said this is it not obvious he would instantly have called these men to witness?

Cromwell: Sir Richard, have you anything to add?

Rich: Nothing, Mr Secretary.

Norfolk: Sir Thomas?

More (looking at the Foreman of the Jury): To what purpose? I am a dead man. (to Cromwell.) You have your desire of me. What you have hunted me for is not my actions, but the thoughts of my heart. It is a long road you have opened. For first men will disclaim their hearts and presently they will have no hearts. God help the people whose statesmen walk your road.

Norfolk: Then the witness may withdraw.

Rich crosses stage leaving the witness-box, watched by More.

More: I have one question to ask the witness. (Rich stops.) That's a chain of office you are wearing. (reluctantly Rich the perjurer faces him.) May I see it? (Norfolk the Judge, motions him to approach.

More (examines the medallion.) The red dragon. (to Cromwell.) What's this?

Cromwell: Sir Richard is appointed attorney-general for Wales.

More (looking into Rich's face with pain and amusement): For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. ...But for Wales!”

Laetare Sunday; Laetare Jerusalem; Rejoice, o Jerusalem! For the Jerusalem above is our birth right by our baptism into Christ.

Today the Fourth Sunday in lent is named from the first words of the Introit; also called Golden Rose Sunday (Mary Queen of Scots was given one by the Pope), Mediana Sunday, Mothering Sunday (with Jerusalem as our Mother—the heavenly Jrualem), and Rose Sunday. This Sunday is celebrated in joyful spirit because the observance of lent is half over, rose-coloured vestments are worn instead of purple, and flowers are allowed & the playing of the organ, if the Lord smiles upon us. Surely our joy comes too from a lightness of spirit as our lenten preparation prises our white knuckled hands off all the Wales’s, and messes of pottage; and hopefully like St. Thomas More off even life itself, with a small “l”--- this life--- so that our homeland is indeed in heaven where the Jerusalem our Mother, the Mystical Body of Christ triumphant beckons onwards & upwards to our Easter, our life with a capital “L”.

The principal divisions of the Gospel according to St. John are the following: 1) The Prologue; 2) The book of signs (where our Gospel of today is placed); 3) The book of Glory, including all that we refer to often as “the Passion”, and the Resurrection account, then 4) The epilogue

Emeritus Pope Benedict, in a message for lent some years ago, spoke of Laetare Sunday: “the Sunday of the man born blind presents Christ as the Light of the World. The gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Lord, I believe!” the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper, and we may recognize him as our only Saviour. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light”. When we have become light, we know "what is pleasing to the Lord" - “every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth" - and we do it with joy. What a pity, indeed, if the "children of light" should ever return to "the fruitless works of darkness"! Equipped to unmask "these things," Christ's disciples will not let themselves be caught by their illusory glamour. This exhortation assumes its full meaning when we remember that in the early Christian era, one of the most beautiful of the traditional names for baptism was "illumination" (photismos in Greek). It is at that moment, indeed, that the believer becomes light in Christ. This is why, St. Paul says, that at the instant when the neophytes, the newly-baptised, emerged from the baptismal waters, the whole congregation sang, “awake, o sleeper, and arise from the dead and Christ will give you light.”

How lovely!

How can we fail to advert to the baptismal meaning of today’s Gospel of the man born blind? And as one of my brethren also pointed out, as he administered the sacrament of penance to me, we can apply the simplicity of the washing in the pool of Siloam to the disproportionate simplicity of the words of absolution; disproportionate that is, to their immense removal of darkness from our lives, and enlivening us with the joy of light, the light who is Christ.

This miracle is a sign that Jesus can open the eyes of the spiritually blind so that they can receive the complete sight which constitutes perfect faith. Faith means passing from darkness to light; and our Lord Jesus was sent into the world in order to bring men this faith; to give them the opportunity of responding when the Holy Spirit draws them to himself.

Anointing with the Holy Spirit in the enlightenment of baptism is the focus of today’s first reading, Samuel’s anointing of David, and of the Epistle: “for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the lord; walk as children of light”.

That is St Paul’s recipe for joy, as we can remind ourselves on this Laetare Sunday. That is how we live worthily of the Mystical Body of Christ, of which we are a member, our Mother the Church, as we remind ourselves on this Mothering Sunday. That is the effulgent golden rose of faith that proves by its works the tell-tale perfume of its existence. The rose of faith has its perfume of works.

“He was born blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

May your works, O Lord, be displayed in us who invite the re-creation of your healing, even as we acknowledge our weaknesses. Our prayer can continue from St. John in his last book “Amen. Come Lord Jesus!” May we be born from the darkness of futility to the light of faith and from the obscurity of faith to the rebirth of eternal vision.