Homily for Fourth Sunday in Lent

Today is Laetare Sunday.  The first words to the Introit or Entrance Antiphon are “Rejoice, Jerusalem.”  Laetare is Latin for “rejoice.”  It comes from Isaiah 66:10.  Of course, most churches use an entrance hymn in lieu of the Entrance Antiphon.

Why do we rejoice at this time?  Because, regardless of what is happening to us in this life, we have the Lord.  No matter our current suffering, the Lord is with us.  Our faith gives us hope.  And, the Good News needs to be shared.  One portion of which we see today in the Gospel.

A blind man is cured.  But, notice how he participates in the cure.  Jesus could have simply cured him on the spot.  Instead, he makes a clay paste that he smears on the man’s eyes?  Is he cured?  Not yet!  He is first commanded to go wash in the pool of Siloam.  The man’s response?  Given by four Greek verbs that we see translated here.  “he went and washed, and came back able to see.”  Or seeing.

The man responded immediately.  There was no question.  No doubts expressed.  Jesus said to do it.  He did it.  His immediate, and some would say radical, response was rewarded.

And so, we get into a contrast in faith between the man and the Pharisees.  The man grows in his faith.  He is now not only able to see physically.  He is growing in his ability to see with the eyes of faith.  The Pharisees, by contrast, start in a hole, to use another analogy.  And choose to keep digging.  You expect Jesus to tell them to put down the shovel.  Not that they would listen.

And so, the Pharisees’ spiritual blindness only worsens. 

And, even more so than the Samaritan woman at the well last week, the formerly blind man comes to see very clearly.

The man starts off with no idea who Jesus is.  Apparently not even asking to be cured.  This stranger just comes up, spits on the ground, makes some sort of paste, smears it over the man’s eyes, and tells him to go wash it off.  Amazing.

After his cure, the man’s first response is to tell his neighbors that he has no idea who Jesus is.

Then, he tells the Pharisees that Jesus must be a prophet.

After his parents throw him under the bus with the Pharisees for fear of being expelled from the synagogue, the man is called back.  He tells the Pharisees that Jesus must be doing God’s will and must be from God.  And…the Pharisees then threw him out.  What his parents wanted to avoid for themselves.

Jesus goes and finds him.  Not just happens to see him.  Goes and seeks him out.  And Jesus’ first words to him are “do you believe in the Son of Man?”  The man says that he wants to believe and asks Jesus to help him find the Son of Man.  Jesus say that he is the Son of Man. 

Earlier in the Gospel of John, Jesus had said several things about the Son of Man.  The one upon whom angels will be descending and ascending when heaven opens.  The one who has descended from heaven himself.  The one who gives us the food of eternal life….when we eat his flesh and drink his blood.  The one who will ascend to where he was before. 

And the man’s response to Jesus?  He says, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.  Remember.  Who do we worship?  The saints?  The Blessed Mother?  No, only God.  The formerly blind man worshipped Jesus.

We too worship Jesus.  Not just in an intangible form.  No, in the Eucharist.  If the Eucharist really is Jesus, then the Eucharist is God.  And, we can worship the Eucharist.  Until this past week, how did we do that?  We went to Adoration. 

Yes, Eucharistic Adoration is also called Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass.  That is part of the title of the little brown book that defines the rules for Adoration.  We have a copy in the vesting sacristy.

This is a parish that has been blessed to have had Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.  At some point, our isolation due to this COVID-19 virus will be over.  Eucharistic Adoration will return.  We will be able to come into this chapel again to worship our Lord in the Eucharist.  I pray that we will not take that opportunity for granted.  That we will all come together to give thanks for the end to this crisis.  That Mary Hartwell will be overwhelmed by the number of people asking to schedule time before our Lord.  Out of sheer gratitude for what our Lord has done for us.

When that day comes, what will I do?  Will my response be “I do believe, Lord.”  And will I too worship him in the Eucharist?