Fourth Sunday in Lent
Two distinct phrases leapt out at me from John.s Gospel story of the man born blind, both take me into the heart of the maelstrom that is surrounding our world at the moment, here is the first and it is Jesus who is speaking: We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."(Jn9: 4-5) Think of the import of that first sentence, for at the moment is seems as if the dark of Covid 19 is about to engulf us, yes, maybe, but look towards that second statement, if the light of the world is there, Jesus is with us.
We know that, we proclaim it often, we hear it preached from the pulpits and ambos, yet never more is that phrase needed to be heard now, as the structures of institutional Church close except for emergency, as we suddenly find ourselves really thrown back on Jesus present in us, our homes and friends. The truth is we have been living in the dark, part blind to what is being shown to us, the light of the world shines his rays on all that we have done which is pitiful, destructive and down right dishonourable.
There is no one person to blame for the pandemic rather all of us are complicit in tearing down the gentle, carefully balanced planet, we should love and call, especially on this rather battered mothering Sunday, Mother `Earth! It has had enough of us and is giving us a final, terrible warning, convert, change, repent, rise up and see the light of the world that will help us renew the face of this earth! So my first thought, on both Mothers Day and our National Day of prayer is that when we light our candles at 7pm, we shed an inner tear not only for those now dead and violently sick, but for this beautiful home we have so carelessly trashed and promise in our hearts that we will not stay in the dark but walk in the light.
The second phrase is spoken by the healed an, who now can see, read it slowly and hear him speaking to you: The man answered and said to them:
"This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything."
Can you find yourself there, are you with the blind man or maybe you feel linked to the questioners? That is for you to decide. I saw myself in two stages, at one point in my life very much the cynical questioner, but now, stripped of all you and I have had to prop up our faith another blinded one, slowly beginning to see.
What then do I see, what is this Gospel calling me to do? Easy answer, to be creative, to look again at our faith, to realize that this is also a time of salvation, of new ways of celebrating, hearing sharing God's Word and sacraments, for though we do not have a building to celebrate in and many of us are isolated, our homes with us in them are the Domestic Church, the light has not left us, Jesus has come to be our guest. Be of good cheer even as things get difficult, for even in this the Lord is here, his spirit is with us! Amen
Lectio and meditation
Simone Weil - Waiting For God
"The beauty of the world is the mouth of a labyrinth. The unwary individual who on entering takes a few steps is soon unable to find the opening. Worn out, with nothing to eat or drink, in the dark, separated from his dear ones, and from everything he loves and is accustomed to, he walks on without knowing anything or hoping anything, incapable even of discovering whether he is really going forward or merely turning round on the same spot. But this affliction is as nothing compared with the danger threatening him. For if he does not lose courage, if he goes on walking, it is absolutely certain that he will finally arrive at the centre of the labyrinth. And there God is waiting to eat him. Later he will go out again, but he will be changed, he will have become different, after being eaten and digested by God. Afterward he will stay near the entrance so that he can gently push all those who come near into the opening."
Psalm of help
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk
through the in the valley of the shadow of death,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Fr Robin is an Eastern Rite Catholic Chaplain for Melkites in the UK. He is also an Ecumenical Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. During this time Fr Robin will be putting prayers and thoughts up on his twitter feed. You can follow him @RobinGibbons2
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