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The Light That Is Sent: Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Lent

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

Psalm: 22 (23)

Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14

Gospel Acclamation: John 8:12

Gospel: John 9:1-41

“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life” (Gospel Acclamation for this Sunday). Jesus is the light of the world that has been sent to the world by the Father. “Light” and “sent” are the themes of this Sunday’s readings.

“God does not see as man sees: man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart” says our First Reading as all of David’s older, bigger, and stronger brothers are overlooked by the Lord as He chooses David to be anointed by the priest and prophet, Samuel. This is the same message that Jesus gets across toward the end of our Gospel: That those who count themselves blind are the ones that will see, and those who think that they can see, are unknowingly blind.

This blind man, Bartimaeus (see Mark 10:46-52), in the Gospel of John stands in for all humanity: We are all born totally in sin, blind to the light of Christ Jesus because of our lack of grace (original sin). But let’s take a closer look at what Jesus does in our Gospel this Sunday.

In the Gospel of John, from its first chapter up until this story in chapter nine, Jesus refers to Himself, twenty-five times, as the “sent” one. He then sees Bartimaeus and makes a spittle of clay/dust in the ground and places it on his eyes evoking imagery from the Garden of Eden where Adam was taken from the clay/dust of the ground and created. Perhaps we are going to see a new creation in this story? But a new creation in the New Testament happens by Baptism, how then can this be? Let’s read on.

After Jesus anoints the blind man’s eyes, He tells him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam, which St John ever-so-kindly tells us, with a massive wink, means “sent.” Let’s put two and two together. Jesus is the “sent” one and He tells this guy to go and wash in the “sent” pool. This is St John’s way of pointing out the reality of Baptism. When we were baptised we were baptised into Christ Jesus (see Romans 6:3-4). We are washed in Christ. We ourselves were truly baptised into He who was “sent,” into He who is the light of the world. He has given us Himself in His Holy Spirit through the waters of Baptism (remember the connection between water and the Spirit from last week), the same Spirit that hovered over the waters before creating the world in Genesis 1.

This is exactly why St Paul says in our Second Reading: “You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light.” In other words, you are not just illuminated by the light of God now that you are baptised, but rather you have become the light Himself. As St Augustine says to a group of newly-baptised Christians in a sermon on the Gospel of John (Maybe even a sermon on this very passage):

Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. (CCC 795; emphasis mine).

This is why now, being children of light, we are no longer blind but can see. We live no longer in darkness. It is those who think that they can see that are blinded by their own pride and self-reliance.

In this Sunday’s Psalm we will sing a refrain that is well-known to our ears: “The Lord is my shepherd: there is nothing I shall want.” By Jesus’ passion and resurrection, He is leading us, shepherding us, through the waters of the Red Sea (like Moses who was also a shepherd) and through the waters of the flood with Noah that we now call Baptism (see 1 Peter 3:20-21) to the green pastures of the Church where we wait in faith, hope, and charity and spread the Good News until we are taken to our final dwelling place.

This Sunday, once again, our heavenly Father will give us the panis angelorum (the bread of angels) as “food for the journey” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 62). If we have become Christ in Baptism, how much more will we become like Him if we become “one flesh” with Him in the Eucharist. Let us dispose ourselves to receive Him worthily. The Lord will always fill our “cup” to the brim in the Sacraments and especially in the Eucharist — no matter the size of our cup!

This Sunday, let us bring a bigger cup…

See you next week on Seeking the Word!

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