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Fourth Sunday of Lent - Cycle A

Homily Suggestions:

1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Eph 5:8-14
Jn 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

The Lenten season is marked by the urgent call to repent. It is a call to make a conscious and free choice to turn away from sin, which leads to death, and embrace the Gospel, which leads to life. It is, in fact, the full flowering of the call Moses issued in Deuteronomy 30:19, "I have set before you life and death...Choose life!"

Today’s Gospel passage is that of the man born blind (John 9). This passage forms a triduum along with those of the Third and Fifth Sundays of Lent, Cycle A, emphasizing the baptismal themes of Water (the woman at the well), Light (the healing of the man born blind), and Life (the raising of Lazarus). These powerful readings remind those preparing for baptism, as well as all the baptized, what this baptismal life is all about.

We see here the drama of the will to accept or reject the call of Christ. The man born blind receives his physical sight early in the story, but the rest of the drama traces the birth of his spiritual sight. At first, he calls Jesus a man (v.11); then a prophet (v.17); then one who is "from God" (v.33), and finally, "Lord" (v.38).He comes to see who Jesus is, because he has a willingness to believe. "Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?" (v.36).

This attitude of willingness stands in stark contrast to the stubbornness and bad will of the Pharisees. Though confronted with the same evidence of the physical healing, they try to explain away that evidence through their interrogations of the man and his parents, and then by portraying Jesus as a sinner, and finally by literally throwing the evidence out the door by ejecting the healed man from their midst (see v.34).

The drama is repeated every day as our society struggles with the "Culture of Death," which shows itself fundamentally in the ongoing tragedy of abortion. The evidence is the same for all to see, made clearer than ever by genetics and fetology, that abortion kills a human being. Some receive that evidence and, with a willing heart, choose life. Others show the stubbornness of the Pharisees and cling to their own ideology. For me the most stark example of this was the day a group of pro-life people conducted a wake for an aborted baby in front of an abortion facility. The baby, the size of a hand, was visible in a small white casket. Some pro-abortion demonstrators looked at the child, and a pro-lifer challenged them, "Look at the evidence right before your eyes. This is a baby!" Believe it or not, the person's response was "That's your opinion!!"

Not to know the child in the womb is not a sin. But the refusal to know is. Jesus declares to the Pharisees at the end of the drama of John 9, "If you were blind, there would be no sin in that, but 'We see,' you say, and your sin remains" (v.41).

"Repent and believe the Good News!" What good news? The good news, in the words of Evangelium Vitae, that "life is always a good...manifestation of God in the world, a sign of His presence, a trace of His glory" (#34). This Lent, let us choose life again!

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