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“O Death, Where is Your Sting?” Easter Sunday Homily by Deacon Peter McDade (my Dad)

easter sunday homily pic from the cistine chapel

EASTER Sunday (A)

April 12, 2020

Readings: Acts 10:34, 37-43; Psalms 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Col 3:1-4, or 1 Cor 5:6B-8 ; John 20:1-9

Oh Death – Where is Your Sting?

We live in dark times. Dark – but not without hope. And in a strange way, almost as if by Divine Order, it comes at a time, Lent & Easter, which focuses us directly and intensely on the hope we have been given in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. We are often reminded of this throughout the year at many funerals where we read those supremely inspiring words from Paul (1 Cor 15:51-57), “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, Oh Death, is your victory? Where, Oh Death, is your sting?” This challenge, first made by Isaiah (25:8), is depicted graphically and beautifully in an image where part of a Michelangelo sculpture of the Risen Christ is engraved on a Sistine Chapel coin. Christ stands victorious over the Cross which He holds commandingly in His hands – in control of it having reduced it and its impact to a size much smaller than He. He is young and muscular, and He is victorious. He looks not at the cross but at life around Him.

Today we celebrate Christ’s victory over our sin, indeed, all sin of all ages. Jesus’ victory for life! God alone could do that – we could never overcome our sin and earn our salvation on our own accord. God’s infinite love for us leads us into the mystery of the Incarnation – God became human for the sole purpose of saving us to eternal life. All of creation is reconciled to God through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. The scandal of the crucifixion is that a person such as Jesus should be subjected to it.

Over the last six weeks of Lent we have been preparing for this moment. A time for repentance and sacrifice now turns into fifty days of anticipation and rejoicing – anticipating the coming of the Holy Spirit and rejoicing for the love of our Saviour over Eastertide.

Do You Really Believe it?

Make no mistake about it. “Resurrection” is a mystery – in the truest sense of the word. It is not something we can prove scientifically. It is not something that we can witness here today. “Mystery” of course means by definition that we cannot prove it or understand it but we nevertheless believe it did happen – and that’s important. There are many things that happen that we didn’t see but we can see the consequences thereof. A classic example is the creation of the Universe, and life in it. We know it happened – we can see the consequences, planets, meteors, stars, black holes etc, etc. And we can see the myriad forms of life on earth. But what brought it all into existence in the first instance is a mystery. In fact, whilst there are theories offered for our digestion, creation theory, the Big Bang Theory, they are simply that, theories – not concrete proof. To accept either of them requires some level of faith.

But we know the Resurrection of Jesus happened – we have first-hand witnesses to it; a written record of events in the four Gospels; and all of its consequential history which is testament to its power and occurrence. Even so, for us to believe in the Resurrection requires an even larger jump of faith than choosing either creation theory or the big bang as an explanation of the beginning of the Universe’s existence. How can a man raise himself back to life after being dead for three days? Never been done before; hasn’t been done since.

Faith & Doubt – Opposite Sides of The Same Coin

Jesus knew how hard it would be for us to believe. You can’t have faith without some level of doubt. If there is no doubt, then it is no longer faith – but a law. If it is a law, then our ability to freely choose to believe is compromised; our ability to choose love and life is eliminated. God’s promise of free will is obliterated – an astounding heresy of predetermination. Two Sundays ago, on the 5th Sunday of Lent, we heard Jesus talking with Martha (a woman who had great faith in Jesus). Before raising Lazarus from the dead, He put a deeply probing question to her (He recognised the potential at least for doubt on Martha’s part):

“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if they die, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die!

DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?” (Jn 1:25-26)

BUT THE RESURRECTION IS FUNDAMENTAL AND CENTRAL TO OUR FAITH IN JESUS AS GOD, OUR SAVIOUR. As Paul says, without it, we have nothing at all. (1 Cor 15-17)

So today we contemplate the mystery at the heart of the Christian faith, at a time when doubt raises its ugly head and tempts us towards non-belief. It is simple but extraordinary and powerful. It is so mind-blowing that even the disciples and the apostles who Jesus told it would happen didn’t believe it until they saw Him. They doubted. They were terrified at Jesus’ cruel death and ran for cover. Jesus’ resurrection shattered all their concepts and understanding of life. In the history of humanity death was and still is today the greatest fear, the curse to wish or inflict on your worst enemies. But Jesus conquered it. “Christ is Risen,” says it all. We can no longer live the same way now that death has been defeated in Christ.

Our God is a God of revelation – of revealing Godself to us. But St. Peter reminds us in the First Reading (Acts 10:34A, 37-43) that the Risen Christ revealed Himself to those who believed in Him or wanted to believe in Him.

• He reminds us that “everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name”.

• An encounter with the Risen Christ in faith is always a salvific and transforming experience.

In today’s Second Reading (Col 3:1-4) St. Paul reminds us that seeing our world through the eyes of faith keeps us focussed on “…what is above”. That our faith is based in the hope of Christ’s resurrection bringing joy to our lives here and now.

• When we gaze above in faith, we know the Risen Christ stands at the right hand of His Father and intercedes for us.

• If we don’t see Him it is because our faith is not strong enough and we need to pray for more.

• Pope Francis describes a certain class of Christians in Evangelii Gaudium who seem to live a permanent Lent: they have not had an experience of the Lord and His love, and, therefore, the Gospel brings them no joy.

• The Resurrection banishes vanity from our lives and changes our perspective.

We Can Only Be Witnesses to the Resurrection If We Believe It and In It!

In today’s Gospel (Jn 20:1-9), we see that the Resurrection didn’t sink in for the disciples until they witnessed the results themselves. It leaves us in hopeful suspense because death no longer had the last word. If the Disciples, especially Peter, had seen so many extraordinary signs of Christ’s power and had been told by Jesus what would happen, yet they still ran for cover from overwhelming fear, then there is great hope for us as we struggle daily with our own faith. For Peter and the others struggled in faith. To struggle in the face of doubt is the strongest sign of faith. It’s worth reflecting on the following:

• The disciples had all the facts. Christ could raise the dead (Lazarus; Jairus’ daughter).

• Even Mary thought today that the body had been stolen (the empty tomb).

• The disciples walking to Emmaus had all the facts (hearts yearning to believe).

• After the Transfiguration, he told Peter not to tell anyone until he was raised from the dead and kept repeating that he would be raised from the dead on the third day (hearing but not understanding or believing).

They had much evidence which they themselves witnessed, but still doubted. But we have many more signs than they did: the Church has testified to the Resurrection for over two thousand years, and many of Christ’s devotees have gone to their graves in history & in our own lifetime believing that someday they would rise, just as Our Lord did.

The resurrection is the source of all hope in our lives – hope in eternal salvation no matter the pain suffered in this life. That we will be raised to glorify Jesus if we believe.

Today’s coronal source of darkness is not “sin” per se, not a sign of punishment by God, but a microscopic organism invisible to the naked eye. It is undeniably a source of deep grief in many ways – financial stress, isolation, sickness, and ultimately, death. This little bug has pushed us into a dark place – one where only hope can survive. Just as Christ went into a dark place in his tomb 2000-odd years ago for three days, His resurrection gives light to all our dark places today, no matter how long they are to endure.

The life-giving power of the Risen Lord has overwhelmed the deathly power of the cross.
• That is what Easter Sunday does for us.
• That is what the Resurrection does for us.
• It makes the light of hope shine so brightly in our lives that it cuts our crosses and suffering down to size.
We can bear them now, and with joy, because we know that they are leading us towards the glorious victory of the Resurrection. We may well come out of our isolation and desolation somewhat changed people. But we will come out of it.

The Resurrection is our hope. Oh Death, where is your sting?

Happy Easter!

Dcn Peter

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Palm Sunday Homily by Deacon Peter (my Dad)

Palm Sunday cartoon by free bible images. palm sunday homily during covid19 picture.

April 05, 2020

Readings:  Isaiah 50:4-7; Psalms 22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14–27:66 or 27:11-54  

Where is My Donkey? Where are My People?

In many ways, it is hard for us to come to grips with staying home this Sunday, probably THE one Sunday when we start to make a special effort to go to Church and give thinks and praise to Christ our Saviour – Easter time starting with Palm (or Passion) Sunday. To wave palms on Palm Sunday with smiles and joy to celebrate Jesus’ victorious ride into Jerusalem – victory over sin; victory over evil; victory that saved us! It’s in our DNA to get excited about it! So, it is with heavy hearts that we are confined by a micro-organism to become temporary “home hermits”, being called to reflect on Easter 2020 from afar and on how good we have had it.

We start this most profound week of reflection, prayer, and sacrifice alone at home. No liturgy. Feeling abandoned – no family gatherings, public cheering, or even going to Church. It is certainly spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically challenging. It tears at our hearts. We suffer. And it’s real. Tuning in to on-line Mass can help but it’s just not the same.

But if we think like that for too long, we turn in on ourselves and lose sight of the real message of Easter! Palm Sunday is a time of exceptional hope and love. We stand at the threshold of Holy Week, of Jesus’ last supper, His agony in Gethsemane, His trial and passion, and death on Good Friday, followed by His resurrection on Easter Sunday. Just as we are being challenged today, albeit in new ways for us, Jesus was challenged to His very core. Despite riding into Jerusalem triumphantly on a donkey with people praising Him and waving palms along the way, He then suffered and died mercilessly, virtually alone. Throughout it all He felt abandoned – but never lost sight of His Father’s love or the victory to be achieved for us. The victory over original sin. He rode on a donkey, a lowly beast of burden – not a strong, flashy warhorse or chariot, but a humble donkey. Greeted and cheered by His people along the way – waving the sign of victory, palms.

In some ways, our current crisis is a blessing. It is forcing us as individuals to re-prioritise our lives; to realise just how dependent on God’s love we are; just how vulnerable we are to that silken thread of life that can be so easily broken. But as a community we are called to be lovers – they will know we are Christians by the way we love, treat, and respect each other!

And so the questions Jesus might ask today could be, “Where is My Donkey? Where are My People?”

We as members of a loving Christian community are Christ’s donkey in the world today. The humble, obedient donkey can be seen as a symbol of us as individual disciples of Christ and the broader Church.  We carry Him in society through our love and understanding for each other, especially to the most vulnerable; through the innovative ways we remain community by our prayer and distant contact (email, telephone, visits where allowed, etc). We remain connected at least spiritually by joining in prayer with each other – where possible at the same time. And we know it will end – it might even have beneficial legacy changes to our lifestyle and prayer life – but the current pain will end.

So in our time of temporary challenge, we should spare a thought and pray especially for those forgotten ones amongst us. Those isolated by homelessness, illness, old age, loneliness, poverty – who live this challenge each and every day of their lives. Feeling abandoned and unloved. They who can’t get to Mass but may search out the internet to do so. They too are Christ’s people; and we are His donkey in bringing Him to them and to our families and friends – with humility and hope, just a Jesus showed us 2000 years ago.

God is Faithful: You can trust Him

Imagine if you can, Jesus on the back of that donkey, a docile, obedient, humble pack animal. Loaded on that donkey’s back is not just the physical weight of Jesus Himself, but the weight of all sins of all ages. To those present who believed Jesus to be their Messiah, it is a victorious parade of God’s faithfulness in love for us despite our lack of trust in God. A humble, docile, obedient animal carries Jesus, the humble, docile, obedient servant of God, triumphantly into Jerusalem.

It can be seen as a direct contrast to the triumphal processions of victorious Roman generals who would usually ride a four-horse-drawn chariot triumphantly into Rome displaying their captives and trophies of war for all to see. It was a tumultuous event and aggressive with captives in chains being mocked and mistreated along the way. The procession was slow, cruel, and galling to the locals. It usually ended at the temple Capitoline where oxen were offered as sacrifice to their pagan gods. It was an extravagant affair which could last several days.

In direct contrast, Jesus’ procession was humble but victorious; gentle but assertive; peaceful but provocative. No parading of captives and trophies but rather being led by crowds placing their cloaks and palm leaves in His path, cheering Him on as their King, their Saviour! Emphatically claiming His victory over sin, sealed with His death and resurrection one week later (a victory that no Roman General could ever claim!) He won the hearts of the people. The Romans and the High Priests and Pharisees were sent into a frenzy. Thus was triggered Christ’s passion with His death to follow very soon thereafter.

Jesus was anything but naïve. He knew what lay ahead and pleaded that God might free Him from it. He trusted God. So today’s celebration is a paradox – joy versus sorrow: trust (the joy of not losing sight of Jesus’ salvific love) versus doubt (the sorrow in our loss of trust as we focus on temporal pain here and now).  How do we celebrate both joy and sorrow at the same time? How do we stay faithful to a God if we don’t or can’t trust Him?

The answer of course stares us right in the face – how did Jesus do it? He was human like us – He was tempted and tested on a grand scale. As suggested earlier, He was tested and shaken to the core. Consider this:

  • Judas, one of His Apostles, betrayed Him at the Last Supper. Jesus was saddened;
  • He pleaded with God the Father for it to pass Him and sweated blood in fear – but stayed true to the Father – not Jesus’ will be done, but the Father’s. Jesus trusted God;
  • The Apostles fell asleep and abandoned Him. Peter denied even knowing Him. Jesus was saddened;
  • He was subjected to false accusations of treason and blasphemy – by His own. Jesus was saddened;
  • He was humiliated beyond description and tortured – with a crown of thorns and cruel scourging all the way to Calvary. Jesus was saddened;
  • He died agonisingly on a cross – naked, bloodied, mocked, and alone, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Jesus trusted God.

Above all else, and as demonstrated throughout the Scriptures, Jesus knew Yahweh is faithful to God’s covenant of love with Jesus and all of creation, especially with us, the great sinners! He knew He could trust God if He was obedient to God’s will and that God would honour Him. And so He was faithful and obedient to God’s will, even unto death.

Therein lies the paradox of celebrating joy and sorrow – the transcendent joy of being faithful to God in trying times versus the sorrow of the pain and suffering in the here and now.

Be Humble, Gentle & Peaceful

Jesus, over the coming Holy Week, demonstrates humility, gentleness, and peace in obedience to God’s will, in the most extreme circumstances of His personal suffering and death. As we confront and accept our challenges with the constraints imposed by a micro-organism and all the other challenges in our lives, we could do likewise.

  • Humility:   Pray frequently and more deeply – acknowledging our total dependency on God for all things; thankful for God’s gift of our salvation. Choose a passage of the Passion scripture and contemplate it.
  • Gentleness: Accept the wisdom of the constraints being imposed and the difficulty of the situation and resist complaining about the pain that follows. Smile and say gidday to those you happen to see or meet;
  • Peace:         Help someone. Contact them; seek someone out in your immediate neighbourhood and talk with them, especially if they are alone. Greet them with “Peace, my friend” or something similar. Try to stay actively connected spiritually with each other. Get in touch with your Parish Community Facebook page (if they have one) and stay connected to your community.

Easter is a time for us to re-prioritise our lives – to get our spiritual, emotional, and psychological lives into better balance. Jesus shows us how to do just that.

We are His donkey. We are His people. He died and rose for us. Let us also die to His love by the way we show humility, gentleness, and peace to all in these awful times and rise to new life in the Holy Spirit, here and now.

Trust Jesus and be His donkey. Have a blessed Holy Week.

Dcn Peter

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Homily from Deacon Peter (my Dad): Fifth Sunday of Lent (A)

praying the rosary with children with this picture of the holy spirit. rosary beads bulk, buy rosary beads for class, rosaries for school, rosary beads large quantities

Mar 29, 2020

Readings:
Ezekiel 37:12-14; Psalms 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45 or 11:3-7, 17, 20-2

Do you hear the Christians sing? Life!

Next Sunday is Palm Sunday – the final Sunday of Lent for 2020. We will move from John’s Gospel back to Matthew’s in our Gospel readings. But today, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we have the final reading from John for Lent. There has been an emerging theme throughout the Lenten readings thus far, particularly in John’s Gospel. Have you felt or noticed it – the increasing tension or movement in our readings? The building up to a tremendous crescendo as we move inexorably towards Easter and the Resurrection of Jesus?
Let’s quickly recap the Gospel readings for Lent This Year:

Week 1 – Matthew 4:1-11:
Jesus is tempted and He overcomes them, showing His humanness but hinting at His Divinity;

Week 2 – Matthew 17:1-9:
Peter, James, and John witness the transfiguration of Jesus – a spiritual manifestation of His Divinity;

Then comes the three famous “I am…” statements by Jesus:

Week 3 – John 4:5-42:
“I am the living water” – Jesus is the Living Water – the One who sustains eternal hope;

Week 4 – John 4:1-41
“I am the Light of the World” – heals the blind man; Opens the eyes of the spiritually blind;

Week 5 – John 11:1-45
“I am the resurrection and life” – Jesus is the Giver of Life raising Lazarus from the dead and freeing us from death;

Week 6 – Matthew: 26:11-54
Jesus Hailed as the Redeemer on Palm Sunday;

Easter Sunday
Jesus rises from the dead as Saviour.

The three “I am” statements from John’s Gospel underline with increasing emphasis the Divinity of Jesus. You can feel the tension rising. We could parody that throbbing theme song and beat from Les Miserables, “Can you hear the people sing? Singing the song of angry men!” to “Can you hear the Christians sing? Singing the song of hopeful men”.

Just as the people of France in the time of Les Mis were confronted with injustice, death, and fear, so too were the people of Jesus’ time with the Roman occupying forces and the repressive enforcement of religious law and condemnation by the Jewish authorities. The Pharisees and the High Priests were inflexible and relentless. Both the Romans and the religious leaders tortured and killed the people without compunction. The people eagerly awaited redemption through the coming of their Messiah. They eagerly awaited freedom and life. And so their growing awareness and acceptance of Jesus as their Messiah is almost palpable as we move through the readings. From Jesus being seen as just another wise Rabbi to a King who was worthy of cheer and celebration – who would redeem and free them. The Romans, Pharisees et al were equally trenchant in their brutal opposition to it.

So today, as we move towards Palm Sunday and the glory of Christ’s resurrection, Jesus puts His stamp of Divinity on His life by living out the saving power of God alone – to bring Lazarus who is dead back to life – the Giver of Life. Only God can do that!

It’s an emphatic statement and example of God’s love for life and freedom. US Bishop Robert Baron, from “Word on Fire”, often quotes St Irenaeus (born circa 120CE; Died 202CE and regarded as one of the early Fathers of the Church) who professed that, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive!” Our God, Jesus Christ, loves one thing more than anything else, LIFE!

When we are open to life in Christ, we glorify God and God glorifies us. But as sinful people, we are not always open to life in Christ.

Jesus Can Take Care of Tragedies – Don’t Lose Hope

When we are surrounded by pain, misery, and poverty, life gets tough and gloomy (as it did for Martha and Mary on Lazarus’ death). We tend to focus on the here and now and sometimes lose sight of the ultimate salvation promised to us. We can easily be overcome and despair of success. Probably nothing has a more profound impact on us than the death or threatened death of a loved one. That’s almost a truism! But we are human – as Jesus was human; and we suffer – as Jesus suffered.

But despite being surrounded by death and gloominess in today’s world, there is hope. Hope in the resurrection. Hope in new life. Why? Because we know and believe from Scripture that our God loves life, more than anything else. So despite all the corona virus’ nasty impacts – its imposition on our freedom in ways we have never experienced before including severe curtailment of free association even with loved ones, or worse still its foreboding threat of death; despite all the evil in the world; despite our own inability to sometimes cope with our own challenges, there is still hope. Hope that comes from Jesus’ resurrection. Nevertheless, we struggle sometimes to see it.

It’s particularly exciting therefore that in today’s Scripture readings, hope is two-fold.

Firstly, God loves life, not death. The first reading from the prophet Ezekiel, is a prelude to Jesus’ action with Lazarus. Ezekiel lived about 600BCE. The Lord asserts to Ezekiel that He loves life & people so perfectly that He will “…open your graves and have you rise from them…”. He will overcome death and we will all rise to new life after death as God desires.

Secondly, in the Gospel reading from John, Jesus demonstrates His divinity unequivocally by raising Lazarus back to life after his death – He has Lazarus rise from his open grave – almost in accord with Yahweh’s promise to Ezekiel. Only God could do that! Thus, Jesus in turn preludes His own resurrection. The difference being, of course, that

• Lazarus was brought back to life by Jesus as a human being destined to die a second time;
• Jesus resurrected Himself as the Messiah never to die again but to be fully and perfectly reconciled to God as our Saviour.

In both instances, Jesus acted as and is God!

But Jesus is still human – He is “..human like us in all things except sin” (Catechism: 467) as the Church teaches and professes in our Creed. He still felt compassion and sorrow for Martha & Mary. He loved Mary, Martha, & Lazarus; he was wrought with sadness; and He wept. His own personal feelings of grief and empathy for Martha & Mary guided His response to their sorrow. He was not distracted by the situation but responded to it with love.

When we are confronted with life’s challenges, we can become distracted. Lose sight of our salvation. But Christ is there always, showing us the way. We only need to open our eyes to it and;
• Call on Jesus for hope when we are urged to despair;
• Allow Christ’s spirit to transfigure & strengthen us in hope that we can continue
on;
• Be open to receive and drink of the Living Water, Christ’s spirit, to sustain us in
hope;
• Let Christ light our way through the darkness of despair by healing our
blindness; and
• Allow Christ to raise us above the constraints and limitations we impose on
ourselves or are imposed on us – whether they be ill health, poverty, stress,
death, and envy.

The Lazarus experience, in being freed from our current despair, is and can be a profound personal experience, physically and spiritually – if like Mary & Martha we humbly open our hearts to Jesus, the Christ, in trust and acceptance of Him as Lord. He will respond every time.

It is tough in these times of the corona virus – which is denying us the ability to be physically present to receive the Eucharist at Mass. But it’s an invitation from the Holy Spirit for us to reflect on just how good we usually have it in life, in our little part of the world. To focus on and reflect in more depth on how we respond to life’s challenges and the power of hope in Jesus – the resurrection and life. And so, to quote Jesus from today’s Gospel, one must ask, how would I answer His probing question?

“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if they die, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die!

DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?”

Do you hear the Christians sing? Singing the song of hopeful people?

God Bless
Dcn Peter

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“Bringing the Light of Christ” Homily March 22 2020 by Deacon Peter (my Dad)

Deacon Peter McDade (my Dad)

Fourth Sunday of Lent (A)
Readings: First Samuel 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

On this, the Fourth Sunday of Lent 2020, our preparation for Easter, the primordial and most important liturgical celebration of the Church’s liturgical year, is being thrown into disarray by a small virus which has devastating potential to wreak havoc on our health, wellbeing, and lives.

For the first time in our contemporary history, celebration of Sunday masses has been suspended until further notice. Archbishop Mark has granted a dispensation to all from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass. It is expected to continue well past Easter!


These are indeed, dark times. We are being denied “the summit and source” of our spiritual journey, the Mass (lumen Gentium 11, Vatican II, & Catechism: 1324) at a time when more than ever we need the light of Christ in our lives. It is in these times we are particularly called, through our Baptism, to be the Light of Christ in our world. To shine our light through understanding, love, and support of those in need. It is particularly challenging for our outreach ministries like St Vincent de Paul, Hospital Chaplaincy, ministering to the sick, to name a few where social distancing strategies can have their greatest negative impact.


It is a time for us to demonstrate enhanced alertness, sensitivity and patience in all we do. As some say, “We are on a wartime footing” – maybe being a little dramatic but it gets the point across. More than ever before, we are being called to be dedicated Disciples of Christ. It can be our personal transfiguration as we struggle to climb the mountain of life.


How fortuitous then, that our Readings today focus on “light”. Today we recall Our Lord’s healing of a blind man that brought many more things to light than just one man’s eyesight. It teaches us how blind we can be to what’s going on. The Lord wants to cure us of the worst blindness: a spiritual one. Through faith in the Son of man, we receive a deeper interior vision beyond our physical sight thanks to Christ, the light of the world.


In today’s First Reading the prophet Samuel has been sent to the house of Jesse to identify and anoint the new king of Israel, a replacement for King Saul, who was a tall, golden-haired, powerful man. Samuel thought Jesse’s son Eliab and any of the other five sons presented would be a good replacement. The Lord puts paid to that idea: “man sees the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart.”


David, the youngest son was not considered important enough to even invite to the feast. His father sent him to go do something “useful” while the rest went to the feast. But it was David who Samuel chose! We all know how the story of King David goes from there.


In today’s Second Reading Paul reminds us that the Lord has brought us from darkness to light, and that light has exposed the good and the bad. Humanity was in darkness until the light of Christ came to lead us out of it. It seems paradoxical that light is needed to recognize darkness, but before the coming of Christ, the darkness of sin did an admirable job of presenting itself as very enlightened. Paul puts Christians who’ve now received the light of Christ on guard against a worldly outlook that seems enlightened, but actually is darkness and fruitless.


In today’s Gospel, the Lord heals a blind man and helps him and others to see with an entirely new level of light, the light of truth. This light shines on everyone involved in the story, and that light is Christ.


The man born blind received an opportunity to see that Jesus had been sent by the Father and had the power of God to heal. He saw a miracle happen. The disciples thought his blindness was due to either his sin or the sin of his parents. Our Lord corrected them. His healing was to show God at work.

Much the same way as we can see today the power of God’s healing in the medical research and studies being undertaken to overcome the virus. It is much more than mere intellectual grunt. It is in how we respond as Christians to the challenge, the man born blind could not deny what was right in front of his face. At this point, the Pharisees had decided to cast out anyone who said Jesus was the Messiah. He didn’t claim Jesus was the Messiah, but when he presented irrefutable logic to the Pharisees: “We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him … If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.”


Our Lord had not just restored his sight; he’d given him the light to see salvation at his doorstep and the need to give witness to it. Christ showed the Pharisees that they weren’t blind, a motive for innocence for their attitude. They chose not to accept what they saw.


Vision/insight Needs True Light
No matter how good our eyesight is, we cannot see in the dark. The Catechism teaches us that “human nature has not been totally corrupted [due to Original Sin]: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it; subject to ignorance, suffering, and the dominion of death; and inclined to sin” (Catechism: 405).


Christ restores our vision to its fullest spiritual potential through his light and his perfect vision. And that is precisely what we need in these dark and challenging times – prayer, faith, and trust – that we might be the light of Christ. Not in any platitudinal or euphemistic way – but in displaying hope and love in our response to the challenges as we prepare for the ultimate – Christ’s resurrection. In how we react and treat each other and strangers at this and all times.


Let Christ light up your life
We’re so used to living in spiritual darkness as a consequence of original sin that we grow accustomed to living in the dark. We need to consciously step out of it. Whilst a worldly outlook on the world may seem the logical result of bad experiences, it is truly a gloomy one.


Lent is a time of penance and sorrow for our sins, but it is also a preparation to celebrate the light of the Resurrection. Let’s pray that Jesus’ resurrection light will guide us in our response to the darkness and gloominess of our world today as we respond to the call to be the real Light of Christ.


God Bless
Dcn Peter

Artwork by Suzanne Ley, Ohio, used with permission. See her beautiful art at https://www.suzanneleyart.com/works