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Fourth Sunday of Lent

By Deacon Arvol Bartok

We have reached the fourth Sunday of Lent, it is celebrated as Laetare Sunday, a day of rejoicing.  Laetare Sunday is a reminder that Lent will soon be over and that we will soon be celebrating the greatest church event of the year, the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  You might even see your pastors wearing rose vestments, maybe….

Our gospel tells us about the Prodigal Son.  Christ tells us this parable is about mercy.  A mercy that reaches down to everyone in human misery.  It is a mercy that does not humiliate, but restores.  It is a good that has been found again, in the case of the prodigal son it was his return to the truth about himself. 

Not everyone in the church will hear about the Prodigal Son today. On the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent, the RCIA offers special rites called scrutinies during certain Sunday Masses. In each scrutiny the community prays that the elect be enlightened and purified and that any evil influences within their hearts will be removed by the grace of God as the Gospel stories promise.

The Gospels proclaimed on these three Sundays tell of dramatic events reminding both the elect and all of us that the journey from sin and death to everlasting life is the promise of Jesus Christ and the vocation of every Christian. In the Gospel of the fourth Sunday is the story of the man born blind. The man healed of his blindness gradually grows to see as Christ sees. He regains his sight right at the start of the story. But only because of the interrogation he receives from his neighbors and the Pharisees and his struggle to respond to them faithfully, does he little by little begin to see the identity of who it was who healed him. By the end of the story, the one who healed him was no longer to him just “the man called Jesus”, He was Lord in whom he believed. For the elect this progression may be familiar. At the start of their catechumenate, their eyes are signed “that [they] may see the glory of God”. Through their catechesis and their experience with the community of believers they grow in understanding of what they see—who the man Jesus was, the prophetic words he spoke, his unique relationship with the Father, and finally his true identity as Lord.

Let us pray that we continue to come to know Christ as our light, and not be intimidated by anyone because we believe in him.