Sunday, March 30, 2014

4th Sunday of Lent (Cycle A)

   Today’s Gospel reading is one of those bible stories which make you stop and ask… What is going on here??? Spit and mud smeared on a blind man’s eyes for healing? Why would Jesus go through all this trouble? Couldn’t he just snap his fingers and heal this man? Couldn’t he just command it in his mind without moving a muscle? In a reading like this Jesus comes across more as a medicine man using what he had at hand to heal a sick person than a creator and all powerful God.
  Now the fact that the Church has selected this specific reading to mark the almost midway moment of our journey towards Easter Sunday should not pass unnoticed. It is obvious that there is something in this image of the Lord (As strange as it might be) that should serve as great encouragement for us. What is the message we are to take away today? What could we possibly learn that will help each one of us slog along throughout what is left of this lenten season?
  Well, I think that before we can understand the significance of this Gospel, we should pause for a moment and take a serious look at how is our observance of lent going.    Now based on my experience after 3 and half weeks of fasting, prayer and alms giving, I usually find myself thinking:  Why? Why do I have to deprive myself of the foods I like or things I enjoy like videogames or TV? By now some people might be thinking “I know I said I was going to go to mass every day, but does God relay care if I miss a day?” Other people might have promised themselves that this was going to be the year in which they were going to receive the sacrament of reconciliation. Three weeks into lent is when they might find themselves thinking “Do I really need to tell a priest my sins? God knows I’m sorry for them shouldn’t this be enough?”
   My brothers and sisters if today we find ourselves thinking like this, thinking that maybe what we had promised ourselves to do during lent is not as important as we thought it was, then today's Gospel is for us.     
   Now before can understand the meaning of today’s Gospel, we have to understand how God sees us as human beings. The Church teaches that all human beings are a very mysterious mixture of created matter and spirit. Our bodies are not like a car which is “driven” by our spirit. Our bodies and our spirits are an integral part of who we are. We are incarnated souls; and as material beings we depend on what God's creation for just about everything; we depend on food, drink, the air we breathe. We are so dependent of the mater God has created that when God, who is pure spirit, decided to manifest himself in a personal way to us, He did not “possessed” one of us, He did not appear from thin air, He appropriated the flesh of the Blessed Virgin Mary to form a body for himself and BECOME one of us! And from that moment His Son became as dependent of this creation as we are.
   God sees us as what we are “incarnated souls”, so His relationship with us starts at the most basic level, which is the material world, and he uses this material world as the means to communicate His divine love.  This is a fundamental teaching of the Catholic Church, and it is the reason why we make use of material things like holy water to receive God’s grace. We even make use of our bodies to receive this grace! We stand, we kneel and we bow during the mass, because at the most basic level we have to worship God first with our bodies, so that our spirits can follow.
   This is why; it is not enough to just think we are sorry for our sins to receive forgiveness. Our sins need to be spoken out loud! In order to show the proper disposition and repentance we have to articulate them, they need to be heard by the human ears of the Lord which are represented by the priest in the confessional. It is not enough to tell ourselves, in our minds that we are sorry.
     Today’s image of Jesus using his own saliva, making mud and applying it to a blind man was and action done for our benefit.  A simple thought from the Lord could have healed the man, but Jesus decided to use his own body and what he had at hand, so that we can appreciate how important our own bodies and His whole creation are when He intends to get closer to us.
   The things we do during lent are our form of showing God how much we want to relate to his son, how sorry we are for our sins; to show how much we want to experience what he experienced on his way to the cross, but most importantly how much we want to experience what he experienced when he rose from the dead!  Everything we do during lent shows at the most basic level, how much we want to be with Him, who gave His life for us. The lent fatigue we might be experiencing is normal, but it is in there, where our bodies get fatigue and our spirit’s disposition falters where Jesus wants us to get closer to us. It is there in the hunger of fasting, in boredom of prayer and the sacrifice of alms giving in which we can have an encounter with Jesus the great healer, the son of Mary, our brother and the creator and user of everything that is visible and invisible. May today’s Gospel help you find new energies to continue your Lenten journey. Amen.