We are approaching the Fourth Sunday of Lent, traditionally known as Laetare Sunday. Unlike the Latin word “gaudete,” which refers to exuberant joy, “laetare” refers to interior joy. This Sunday, from the anointing of David to the healing of the man born blind, the readings invite us to see our own lives as an interior journey from darkness to light.
In the first reading, God chooses the most unlikely candidate as the second king of Israel, namely David, Jesse’s youngest son, a shepherd boy. The reason He gives Samuel for this choice is that the Lord does not look at the things people look at; people look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. We are thus reminded of the worldly shadows cast upon our own judgements, and of how much we need God’s light.
The psalm of David speaks of the valley of the shadow of death, reminding us of God’s unfailing presence even there, and of our joyful assurance of His goodness and love.
Saint Paul extends the darkness-versus-light metaphor by telling us we are children of light.
In the healing of the man born blind, the Pharisees had the externals of religion—worship, prayer, knowledge of the scriptures—but were insensitive to the human misery around them. There was no compassion in their hearts. In short, they lived in spiritual darkness. The man born blind, however, steps into the light by believing in Jesus.
Since the earliest of times, this Gospel miracle has been associated with Baptism, the miracle by which we are made spiritually whole. Our spiritual journey does not end there, however. It is only the beginning!
Yet, sometimes, we feel like we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I know there have been times when my faithfulness seemed to be waning. Following Christ in this day and age is no easy feat. Thankfully, the Church has always been there as a companion on my journey, reminding me of the beauty of the faith. And, as time goes by, despite the setbacks, the journey continues to deepen.
This Sunday, why not fully embrace the interior joy that comes from our assurance of God's goodness and love? Let’s thank God that we see Jesus, not as the Pharisees do, but as the man born blind. Let’s see ourselves as truly on a journey, as followers of Christ, stepping into the glorious light of God.
A faithful Catholic from the Diocese of Montreal