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“FIRST IMPRESSIONS”

4th SUNDAY OF LENT (A) March 26, 2017

  1 Samuel 16: 1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Psalm 23; Ephesians 5: 8-14; John 9: 1-41

 By Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:

 

 

   The 4th

Sunday of

LENT

2017

When the disciples saw the blind man begging they treated him as a topic for conversation and inquiry. His blindness, not the fact that he was a suffering person, was the focus of their attention. They asked Jesus about the reason for his blindness. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents?”

 

People of the time believed that a physical infirmity was the result of sin, committed either by the person, or the parents (Exodus 20:5). The disciples are in for a surprise. They never could have imagined that the afflicted man would play a part in revealing God’s wonderful works on our behalf.

 

Are we so far removed from the thinking that blames a person for the misfortune they bear?  In our “enlightened” world don’t people still think that poverty, and its resulting maladies like sickness and short life span, are the fault of the poor? (And aren’t those physically or sexually abused sometimes blamed for what they “provoked” in others?  “She wouldn’t have gotten raped if she hadn’t dressed that way.”)  As long as people think in this way, they won’t look deeper into the economic, cultural or political reasons that keep poor people and whole nations in a permanent underclass.  Such attitudes about poverty’s sources will also prevent people from doing something to change oppressive conditions for groups of people in our own cities and for nations in other parts of the world. 

 

Jesus casts light on such darkness and answers their question,  “Neither he nor his parents sinned.” The blame lies elsewhere; maybe even on the very people who are blaming others for their dire conditions! God is not punishing the man for sin; indeed, God wants to do something that will deliver the man from his blindness.  After enlightening his disciples, Jesus sets about changing the man’s condition.  So, he cures two forms of blindness.  He enables both the man to see and his disciples to get a different perspective.

Jesus doesn’t just see one person who is ill. He sees another example of the human condition he has come to alleviate. The blind man is a symbol  – he represents us, for we do not see. Blindness is a universal ailment that afflicts humanity. We are blind to God’s presence in our lives; to the needs of our neighbors; to people of other races, religions, nationalities etc. In our blindness, we would rather build walls of separation and construct social barriers than welcome the stranger into our midst and address the needs of the refugee.

 

The healing happens quickly. Jesus gives the man his physical sight, but that is just the first step on the man’s journey to spiritual sight. In the confrontation he has with the Pharisees the man will continue to progress – from his newly acquired physical sight to spiritual sight. He will see who Jesus is and come to faith. While the Pharisees will progress even further into their blindness. They think they know it all, when in fact they are not even aware that they know nothing. They are in the dark.  On the other hand, throughout the story the man admits his ignorance about many things. In doing that, unlike the Pharisees, he is open to change. After he is thrown out by the Pharisees Jesus returns to him. He admits his need to Jesus, “Who is he sir that I may believe in him?” Jesus reveals himself to the man who then does him reverence. The former blind man has come to sight in many ways, as he goes from unbelief to faith.

 

It is a challenging gospel story. Is it possible that the places we think we are seeing clearly, we are not? Listen to the gospel: the ones, who were sure they knew what was going on, the Pharisees, were blind. They were religious experts, but they missed the truth staring them in the face. The one who is confounding them and turning their world upside down was really God, trying to open their eyes and set things right.

 

What confounds us, raises questions, upsets our routine? These may be the very places God is trying to open our eyes and give us vision; set things right for us. The story of the blind man coming to sight gives us pause to ask ourselves:  How well do I see? Do I see what is really going on in my life? Has a road I have been traveling taken an unfamiliar turn and I’ve lost my way? Are things happening to me that make me trip and stumble like a person walking and groping in the dark? The world is filled with bright lights and glitter.  They blind us to what’s important, lasting and best for us. We ask ourselves: what is blurring my vision these days? What’s dulling my appreciation of life?

 

The blind man’s story replays our own. We made the same journey he did. We were led to a pool of water, washed there and words were spoken over us, “I baptize you….” This began the journey guided by the sight we received in those waters. In baptism we were given a clearer sight with which to look at our world. What do we see as a result of that washing at the pool?  Has the sight we received in the washing affected our priorities and life choices?

 

Because our eyes have been opened we see that people of other races and nations (even those some name as enemies) are our sisters and brothers. We see that having all we ever wanted can leave us dissatisfied and poor in God’s sight. We see that even in sickness and old age there is great value and beauty. We see that God is not someone on high to fear, but someone up close who walks our life with us in loving companionship. We see the people we value are not always the ones others call “important.”  Like the blind man the waters have opened our eyes and we see with the eyes of Jesus, who is light for a dark world.

 

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:

http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032617.cfm

         

QUOTABLE

 

 


Our Lent should awaken a

 sense of social justice.

                                  
                        Oscar Romero, “The Violence of Love”

 

                                                           

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

 

Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them
--
Ephesians 5: 11

 

Across our nation and around the world, domestic violence and human trafficking are two great darkness’s on our humanity. Both of these cut across all ethnic and economic backgrounds and are present in both small rural communities and crowded urban metropolises. For those suffering under domestic violence, home becomes a place of fear, the dignity of their human person is assaulted, and they are often unable to see a way out. They are in need of hope, comfort, and light in their time of darkness. The same is true for those that are the subjects of human trafficking. Human trafficking can appear in the most unlikely places, like restaurants and college campuses. Some of the warning signs to look out for is someone being isolated and being answered for by somebody else, and a steady stream of people coming and going from a house. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, N.C. is among the top 10 states in the number of trafficking reports. In the past 10 years, the NHTH has identified almost 2,700 victims of human trafficking in the state.

 

The Compendium of the Catholic Church states: “A just society can become a reality only when it is based on the respect of the transcendent dignity of the human person (132). Together with equality in the recognition of the dignity of each person and of every people there must also be an awareness that it will be possible to safeguard and promote human dignity only if this is done as a community, by the whole of humanity” (145).

 

Locally, InterAct of Wake County is a private, non-profit, United Way agency that provides safety, support, and awareness to victims and survivors of domestic violence and rape/sexual assault. InterAct fulfills this mission through the support of its volunteers and the community. 

 

To learn more and for crisis phone lines, go to: http://interactofwake.org/ 

 

To volunteer, call Interact’s main office: 919-828-7501.

 

NC Stop Human Trafficking is the statewide community member coalition whose mission is to eradicate modern day slavery in all its forms. NC Stop works through connecting and supporting individuals, community-based and faith-based organizations, non-governmental and governmental organizations. To learn more and to get involved, go to: https://ncstophumantrafficking.wordpress.com/about/

 

----Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Coordinator of Social Justice Ministries

Sacred Heart Cathedral -- Raleigh, N.C.

 

FAITH BOOK

 

Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. “Faith Book” is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

 

From today’s Gospel reading:

 

[Jesus said to the blind man]

“Go wash in the Pool os Siloam” – which means Sent –

So he went and washed and came back able to see.

 

Reflective Questions:

 

The story of the blind man coming to sight gives us pause to ask ourselves: 

  • How well do I see?

  • Do I see what is really going on in my life?

  • Has a road I have been traveling taken an unfamiliar turn and I’ve lost my way?

  • Are things happening to me that make me trip and stumble like a person walking and groping in the dark?

  • The world is filled with bright lights and glitter.  They blind us to what’s important, lasting and best for us.

  • So, we ask ourselves: what is blurring my vision these days? What’s dulling my appreciation of life?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

 

"The use of the death penalty cannot really be mended. It should be ended."
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick

 

I have a friend who is in a federal maximum security prison in Colorado. He was previously in a maxi prison in California – very confined.  I knew him in the late 80's at San Quentin Prison.  He has been in prison for 38 years.  Would you drop him a line?  Thanks.

 

Raul Leon 95335-198

U.S Penitentiary – Max

P.O. 8500

Florence, Colorado    81226-8500

16-116-002

 

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:  http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

 

DONATIONS

 

“First Impressions” is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship.  It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like “First Impressions” sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

 

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P. 

 

St. Albert Priory, 3150 Vince Hagan Drive, Irving, Texas 75062-4736

 

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars.  Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation:   http://preacherexchange.com/donations.htm

 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each  Liturgical Year, A, B or C

  • One combined CD for “Liturgical Years A, B and C.”

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

 

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.preacherexchange.com and clicking on the “First Impressions” CD link on the left.

 

(These CDs have been updated twice in the last five years.)

 

2. Homilías Dominicales” —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written  by Dominican sisters and friars.  If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org 

 

3. Our webpage:   http://www.preacherexchange.com

Where you will find “Preachers’ Exchange,” which includes “First Impressions” and “Homilías Dominicales,” as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

 

4. “First Impressions” is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship.  It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like “First Impressions” sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.
 



Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626

 


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