Sunday, March 31, 2019
The Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year C
Coming to his senses he thought, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.’” Lk. 15:17-19
Why do we cling to our sins? This passage comes from the story of the Prodigal Son. We should know that story well. The son decided to leave his father and take his future inheritance, spending it on a life of sin. When the money he had ran out, he was in desperate need. So what did he do? He came to his senses!
This line alone is worth our meditation. First, it reveals what happens to a person who falls into a life of sin. In this case, the son eventually reaped the fruit of his sin. He found that his sin left him destitute and alone. He didn’t know where to turn. And though our sins may not be to the extent of this son, we will all experience the empty effects of the sins we commit, just as this son did.
The profound insight we can gain from this son is that he did come around. Specifically, by “coming to his senses” he recognized two important things. First, he realized that he is worth more than a life of destitution. No one should have to live an impoverished and empty life. Therefore, by seeing his own dignity he came to realize that he was made for more.
Secondly, he knew he could turn to his father. What a blessing it was for him to know this. The reason he knew he could turn to his father was that his father clearly loved him with an unconditional love. The mercy in the heart of the father was so strong that the son was aware of it and this awareness gave him confidence to turn to him.
Reflect, today, upon this twofold action. The son sees his misery and also sees his father as the person to whom he can confidently turn. We must strive to do the same in our own lives. The Father in Heaven will never reject us. No matter what we have done or how far we have turned away, the Father’s love is perfect, relentless, unconditional and always inviting. He is ready and willing to dismiss every wrong we have done if we only turn to Him in confidence. Come to your senses in regard to your sins! Let go of them, repent and trust in the mercy of God.
Lord, my sins do leave me dry and empty inside. I see the misery and pain that result from the sinful choices I have made. Help me, dear Lord, to come to my senses and to turn from every sin I commit. Help me to see that Your mercy is far greater than anything I have done. I thank You for Your perfect love and turn to You in my need. Jesus, I trust in You.
Grace from the Ordinary
The Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A
(Note: This Gospel is optional for Years B & C with Scrutinies)
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth…He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —. So he went and washed, and came back able to see. John 9:1, 6-7
Who was this man? Interestingly, he does not have a name. He is only referred to as the “man blind from birth.” This is significant in the Gospel of John because the lack of a name is also seen, for example, in the story of “the woman at the well.” The fact that there is no name indicates that we should see ourselves in this story.
“Blindness” is our inability to see the hand of God at work all around us. We struggle to see the daily miracles of God’s grace alive in our lives and alive in the lives of others. So the first thing we should do with this Scripture is strive to see our lack of sight. We should strive to realize that we so often do not see God at work. This realization will inspire us to desire a spiritual healing. It will invite us to want to see God at work.
The good news is obviously that Jesus cured this man, as He willingly cures us. To restore sight is easy for Jesus. So the first prayer we should pray as a result of this story is simply, “Lord, I want to see!” The humble realization of our blindness will invite God’s grace to work. And if we do not humbly acknowledge our blindness, we will not be in a position to seek healing.
How He heals this man is also significant. He uses His own spit to make mud and smear it on this man’s eyes, which is not immediately that appealing. But it does reveal something quite significant to us. Namely, it reveals the fact that Jesus can use something exceptionally ordinary as a source of His divine grace!
If we look at this in a symbolic way we can come to some profound conclusions. Too often we look for God’s action in the extraordinary. But He so often is present to us in that which is ordinary. Perhaps we will be tempted to think that God only works His grace through heroic acts of love or sacrifice. Perhaps we are tempted to think that God is not able to use our daily ordinary activities to perform His miracles. But this is not true. It is precisely those ordinary actions of life where God is present. He is present while washing the dishes, doing chores, driving a child to school, playing a game with a family member, carrying on a casual conversation or offering a helping hand. In fact, the more ordinary the activity, the more we should strive to see God at work. And when we do “see” Him at work in the ordinary activities of life, we will be healed of our spiritual blindness.
Reflect, today, upon this act of Jesus and allow our Lord to smear His spit and dirt on your eyes. Allow Him to give you the gift of spiritual sight. And as you begin to see His presence in your life, you will be amazed at the beauty you behold.
Lord, I want to see. Help me to be healed of my blindness. Help me to see You at work in every ordinary activity of my life. Help me to see Your divine grace in the smallest events of my day. And as I see You alive and active, fill my heart with gratitude for this vision. Jesus, I trust in You.