Around the diocese, people this Sunday will be hearing different Gospels. In those places where the readings for Year C of the cycle are being used they will hear the famous parable of the Prodigal Son. In those places where, for the needs of the RCIA programme, the Year A readings are used, they will hear of the healing of a blind man, whom Jesus cures by mixing spittle and earth, placing them in his eyes and sending him to wash in the Pool of Siloam.
Although they are different stories, they carry the same message of healing, whether spiritual or physical. They are, therefore, equally appropriate to this Sunday in Lent that is called, from the first word of the entrance antiphon in Latin, “Laetare” Sunday; “Rejoice” Sunday.
If we are true to our vocation, Christians should find it very hard to be solemn for too long. Even in the midst of a penitential season, rejoicing breaks through. So also, in the midst of darkness, spiritual, physical or moral, the light shines. We are people of hope. And the heart of our hope is the knowledge of the healing power of God. Every ill by which we are afflicted, whether it be the literal, physical ills from which we suffer, or the moral ills of the society in which we live, the violence, the mistreatment of the gifts of creation, including our own bodies, and even the spiritual ills of our own sins, all of these can be transformed by the grace of God.
We can see the beginning of this transformation even now, the signs of God’s grace among us; but the fullness of it is something to which we must look forward. Just as the joy of the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter morn transforms the sorrow of Good Friday, so the glory of the promise of the Lord to us has the power to transform all sorrow, to ‘wipe away every tear from our eyes’ as the funeral liturgy says.
This moment, near the mid-point of Lent, calls us to reflect on the healing grace of God. As we hear of its power to restore us to our proper state, to make us once again the images of God we were made to be, we ask for the gift of hope. We ask for it, that we may share it with our brothers and sisters. So that, in the midst of the darkness that the world can know, we might, together, have the confidence expressed in the words most of us know so well: “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
Fr. Chris Denham