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Mar 25, 2017 Written by  Fr. Paulino Twesigye Mondo

Fourth Sunday of Lent Year A Be the first to comment!

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Theme: Obstacles and triumphs

History is full up with stories of people who triumphed over seemingly insurmountable disadvantages and challenges. Beethoven was deaf when he composed his Ninth Symphony, so deaf that when his work was first performed, he could not hear a note of the magnificent ode, ‘Joy, thou heavenly spark of Godhead’ with which the symphony concludes. Alexander the Great and Alexander Pope suffered skeletal deformities as did Shakespeare. During these weeks of Lenten preparation for Easter, each of us has ample cause to reflect on those challenges and obstacles which tend to disable or even stunt our spiritual development. With the rest of humankind, we are subject to the hindrances of sin and its consequences. But, like the people mentioned above, we are also capable of overcoming whatever stands between us and the wholeness to which God calls us. At every moment of our existence, we are offered the grace necessary to grow as committed, faithful disciples.

First reading: 1Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13

In his insightful and entertaining book, Pope John Paul I, wrote a series of letters to such fictional and historical persons as Hippocrates, Guglielmo Marconi and Jesus. Pope John Paul I/Luciano’s correspondence with these famous figures reflected the fact that he was first and foremost a pastor. Taking to heart the ancient Christian maxim, ‘per verbum and verbum’; he believed that a believer could reach word of God through the study of the literary word. Within the familiar, conversant style of each letter, Luciano taught some aspect of the Christian ideal. The pope who died within five weeks of his 26 August, 1978 election, wrote in his letter to David, king of Israel, ‘The Bible presents the various components of your personality: poet and musician, brilliant officer, a shrewd king, sometimes involved, alas! not always happily with women and in harem intrigues with the consequent family tragedies; and, nevertheless, a friend of God, he remarked thanks to your noble piety, which kept you aware of your insignificance in the face of God’. David’s insignificance is also acknowledged in this reading from 1Samuel. Youngest son of Jesse, left at home to tend the family’s flocks, David was nevertheless, the one who was chosen by God to be king because the ‘Lord who looks into the heart’ judges people according to a different standard. David’s youthful inexperience which appeared to his father, brothers and even to Samuel to be an obstacle which would have prevented his accession to the throne did not deter the saving plan of God.

By his anointing, David was set apart by God for special service. In Jewish tradition, the anointing signified the presence of the Lord’s spirit on his anointed. There are two other instances when David is anointed at Hebron, first by the tribes of Judah cf. 2 Samuel 2:4 and then by the tribes of Israel cf. 2 Samuel 5:4. These successive anointing signified the veneration and allegiance of these tribes for their new king. When being baptized, our human insignificance is anointed and set apart by God for special service. Endowed with the presence of his Spirit, we are also empowered to overcome the obstacles inherent in Christian living.

Second reading: Ephesians 5:8-14

The Bible describes conversion in various ways among them is a change of mind, a change of heart, a change in one’s direction in life, as putting on a new person in Galatians 3:27, as putting on armor in Romans 13:14, as the return of an errant spouse to a faithful partner cf. Hosea and as the homecoming of exiles from a foreign enslavement. In today’s reading from Ephesians, conversion is being portrayed in terms of darkness and light. Prior to encountering the faith, all believers were in the darkness of sin, but through baptismal initiation they have been ushered into the light. Those who have been reborn through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus are thereby children of light whose lives must thereafter be consonant with their parentage.  To say Children is a Semitic manner of expressing a very intimate relationship and it may be helpful to recall its origin: ‘Like Father, like son’.

Habits of thought and particular life-styles are transmitted along with life and existence. The child is in the father and the father is in the child. To be born of light obligates one to be like the light. This is the obligation. Thus reborn and compelled, our lives as believers are characterized by goodness, justice and truth. Goodness which in Greek means agathosune is a benevolent generosity which is manifested in a loving, kindness toward others.

Justice or righteousness dikaiosune in Greek means giving to God and to others what is their due. Truth aletheia in Greek is not an abstract entity to be grasped by the intellect. It is moral truth which is not only something to be known but something to be done. Thus waking up from the sleep as if it was waking up from death and sin, every believer is expected to take it as a celebration of the sacrament of baptism that gift of a new day which brings with it light and life. With the coming of each morning’s dawning, we are reminded that our commitment to Christ should produce light in the world and with the coming of each evening’s darkness; we are warned of the consequences of our failure to do so.

Gospel: John 9:1-41

A hero of disciples and a model for catechumens since the first Christian century, the unnamed protagonist of today’s gospel was depicted no less than seven times in the art of the catacombs. The man born blind, who was gifted with physical and spiritual sight by Jesus, also found mention in the writings of Tertullian, Justin Martyr and Augustine. After being consecrated as bishop of Hippo, Augustine wrote, ‘This blind man stands for the human race; if his blindness is infidelity, then his illumination is faith’. He washed his eyes in the pool of Siloam which is interpreted, ‘one who has been sent’; he was baptized in Christ. Tertullian also regarded the experience of the man born blind as having baptismal significance. In his tractate on the sacrament he explained, “The present work will treat of our sacrament of water which washes away the sins of our original blindness and sets us free unto eternal life” Sources Chrétiennes 35:64, Cerf, Paris.

An astounding event, Jesus’ healing of the blind man has been nevertheless described simply and briefly in only two verses. Rather than concentrate on the wondrous nature of Jesus act of power, St. John the Apostle focused on its theological impact. The healing of the blind man and the discourse which accompanied it served as evidence in support of Jesus’ earlier proclamation, “I am the light of the world; anyone who follows me will not be walking in the dark; he will have the light of life” John 8:12.  It is important to notice that the healing of the blind man is described by St. John as a process involving clay, spittle and smearing or anointing of the eyes with the spittle and a washing in water. Although these activities were considered to be work and therefore a breach of the Sabbath rest, Jesus who had previously claimed for himself God’s prerogative to work on the Sabbath, John 5:15-20 proceeded to manifest his saving power over the darkness by curing the man. Early baptismal rituals incorporated similar gestures and the sacrament of baptism was referred to as enlightenment cf. Hebrews 6:4, 10:32; Justin Martyr, Apologia 1.61-12, 65:1.

With increasing drama the narrative relates the blind man’s emergence from the darkness of ignorance and unbelief to a true and deepening knowledge of Jesus as the light of the world. In vivid contrast to the man’s climactic profession, “I do believe, Lord” John 9:38 are the man’s parents who feared to speak their minds and the Pharisees, whose willful blindness to Jesus person and mission made them liable to judgment. The profession of faith is real from this man’s heart and experience. 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. Note here that the cured man no longer says it is “the man called Jesus” John 9:11. He now refers to Jesus as a ‘prophet’. Here we see the progressive spiritual growth of the man.

As the blind man confessed Christ before others, through our Baptism we were called to plead the cause of the Light. If we are rejected because of our spiritual calling, let us rejoice, for it is Christ Himself Who is being rejected through our testimony. In the end, the words of Jesus shall be fulfilled.  For judgment I have come into the world. A careful reading of this gospel with its references to expulsion from the synagogue cf. John 9:22, 33-35 reveals the fact that John infused his work with issues pertinent to his audience. By the time the fourth gospel appeared around year 90 AD, conflict between official Judaism and Jewish Christians had increased dramatically. Wishing to rid themselves of what they perceived as heretical element, Jewish authorities officially banned Jewish Christians from synagogue worship.

In the experience of the man born-blind, subjected to the cowardice of his parents and the scorn of the Pharisees but sought out by Jesus in John 9:35, the early Christians found a source of strength and courage. He remains so for all preparing for the renewal of baptism’s cleansing and healing which will come at Easter. He reminds us that: “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work” John. 9:4. Christ does not shine on those who remain perpetually asleep, refusing to rise from the dead; Jesus encourages our active participation so that we can collaborate in adding value to the process of our salvation.

Application

Each of the three readings for today offers an instruction for all who struggle against challenges to holiness. The reading form 1Samuel reminds us that those whom God involves in his saving plans are not necessarily those whom the world perceives as great. David, as the youngest of Jesse’s sons would probably have been last in line for a position of authority. But God, who judges by other standards, chose him to be king and graced him for his task with the gift of his spirit. Through baptism, let us not underrate our selves, each one of us is favorable in the mind of God. We are all chosen, called and anointed. In the second reading, St. Paul reminds us that before baptism, we had been prey to the darkness but through Christ, we have become citizens of light whose deeds are to reflect the privileges of our calling. We have no choice but to walk in the light of Christ. In John’s gospel, we are invited to consider the spiritual stagnation of the unnamed blind man. Healed by Jesus, he was able to overcome his physical disability. Moved to faith by this saving sign, he also gained his spiritual sight and went on to refute those who chose to remain in the darkness of their sin and disbelief. During these last weeks of Lent, we who have been called to enjoy the triumph of Jesus’ resurrection; we are called to confront whatever obstacles that may hinder us from achieve this honorable moment of grace.

 

335 Last modified on Saturday, 25 March 2017 08:52

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Luganda: 7:30 am.  English: 9:00 am, 11:00 am and 5;00 pm.

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Welcome to Our Lady of Africa Parish Mbuya. We are located near Bugolobi Township in Nakawa Division. It is about 5 kms from the City Centre of Kampala. Mbuya Catholic Parish is a vibrant and diverse community made up of people from different parts of Uganda. We welcome you warmly and joyfully.

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