Lanie LeBlanc OP - 4 Lent C
Carol & Dennis Keller - 4 Lent C
Dennis Keller - The
Scrutinies – Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent (Year
Brian Gleeson CP - 4 Lent A and C
4. -- Deacon
Russ O'Neill - 4 Lent C
reflection can be here!)
Lent 4 A
Long story, short about this long Gospel passage: we
human beings might just refuse to acknowledge the truth if
we have already made up our minds one way or the other,
often no matter the visible evidence to the contrary. This
is absolutely the case for the unbelievers in the story of
the man born blind. It is also the case today in politics in
the US and also in many quiet and not-so-quiet corners of
our own everyday life.
Actively seeking the truth and, perhaps even reversing
our perspective on a life-changing topic, seems to be a
major challenge of our times. Our upbringing and background
surely form our opinions and beliefs and our actions. It is
challenging to become more open and anti what we ourselves
have almost become, what is almost set in stone!
For me, one sure way to become more open is to listen.
Listen to the Scriptures. Listen to that inner voice that
questions what once was comfortable... but now is not.
Listen to one another, especially to those who are different
or think differently in some way.
Sounds easy, is NOT! Our comfort zone is called that for
a good reason. Change is hard and, I think, that doesn't
have a monopoly or exclusive rights on the young or the old
We are not only held back by our past experiences and
maybe a bit of inertia or apathy, but also by fear of the
unknown or the ridicule of others. Standing for what is
better than before also means we have to admit that we were
wrong. In our universal quest for acceptance, that is risky!
Being vulnerable and open to change means we need to
acknowledge our biased blindness in the darkness and seek
the different rays of light that may come our way. We might
squint a little or a lot and even try to hide defensively
from such brightness. But oh, the peace that will come when
we FINALLY give up being judgmental and always having to be
right! Let us remember that only God is omniscient!
Dr. Lanie LeBlanc
Fourth Sunday of Lent March 31 2019
Joshua 5:9-12; Responsorial Psalm 34; 2nd Corinthians
5:17-21; Gospel Acclamation Luke 15:18; Luke 15:1-3 & 11-32
The grand story of Luke’s gospel this Sunday is a
favorite of ours. We tend focus on the younger son and
identify with him. We like to have fun. This is a brash
young man who gets tired of the humdrum of daily living and
its hard work. He’d like to live the high life of party and
sleeping late and being wild and crazy. This young man
embodies an image of freedom. He is not constrained by
social customs or family relationships. His love is for
himself. He insists on receiving his inheritance even before
his father is dead. He respects neither his dad’s life
achievements nor the daily routine and efforts of an older
brother which had grown because of his work. He is
rebellious and inconsiderate. He thinks he is a friend to
others like him. The lesson he learns is a hard one. The
party goers who share his wealth are fickle friends. They
abandon this prodigal when his money runs out. He is forced
to find work that is less than minimum wage. He is driven to
eat the waste thrown into the garbage can. He appears to
receive his just deserts. And yet, most of us discover in
our lives a desire to act like this prodigal. Others of us
take the route of the older brother and work hard to follow
the rules and to coerce others to follow those same rules.
The long suffering older brother follows the rules; he
works hard in his father’s enterprises. His believes if he
does what is right as determined by the rules of social and
religious customs he will inherit everything. He is driven
by the belief that he will enter paradise because he has
limited his freedom of choice by surrendering his will and
imagination to the rule of law. That is all there is for
him. He is convinced it will be his ticket to enjoying all
his efforts have achieved. Rules, regulations, commandments,
and rituals shape his living.
When we think about these brothers, we find in them bits
and pieces of our own way of living. When the younger son
stumbles home, shoeless, in rags, with a shrunken stomach,
and a terrible headache from lack of food and drink, he
comes not because he has feelings for his father. He comes
because he is hungry, thirsty, and in need of clothing and
shelter. His Dad is for him about survival. The older
brother comes to the homecoming party and refuses to share
in the festivities. His anger prevents him from sharing. He
is angry. He is frustrated that his old-man father is taken
in by this wild and crazy prodigal son. This older brother
is not motivated by care and concern for his brother. He has
schooled himself in duty and responsibility. He gave up much
of his own will and desires as a surrender to duty,
responsibility, and rules. It was duty and responsibility
the father should have respected. Yet, the father was taken
in by this son who has already spent his inheritance. The
younger son disrespected his father. This younger son
challenged the life’s work of the older brother making it
Neither of these two boys got it right. Neither of these
two young men operated with a proper understanding of what
being a son means. It is the father’s action that contains
the meaning and purpose of human life. It is the father’s
behavior that reveals to us what God is. What God is for us
is limitless love. Whether we think that our lives are about
taking and pleasure seeking or whether we think of our lives
as duty bound, it makes no difference to the Creator who
formed us. Whether we are with the Creator each day or
whether we are the one stumbling home to work mucking out
stables so we can survive – it makes little difference to
our Dad, Our Father. God loves us unconditionally. That’s
hard to accept. Do we think that law, rules, and rituals are
what life is for? How do we consider those who believe life
is about partying and having no concern for the expense it
may cause others.
That is the story this Sunday. Only Luke’s gospel has
this parable. This story speaks to us about the freedom our
Creator has given us. It speaks to us of the dream that is
God’s hope for us. Whether we are silly and use our freedom
to spend our gift of life inheritance or whether we bind
ourselves to duty and responsibility to the exclusion of
love makes no difference to what the Creator wants for us.
Our Creator loves us and wants us to come home. God doesn’t
force us but always holds out a welcoming invitation, no
matter what. Our Creator longs for us to come into his
banquet hall. The ticket to his banquet is a response to the
love God has for us. That love calls us, contrasts with the
empty promise of the ways of the world. That love transforms
us and provides freedom from the emptiness of the pursuit of
power, wealth, and fame. That love releases us from the
burdens of duty and moves to live in the powerful presence
of God’s love for us. In that love we are freed from what
we’ve done wrong. In that love our work, our living
according to the guides of the Law moves into a stronger,
more enriching, and more enlivened life.
The crowd in John’s Gospel asks Jesus, "Why have you
come?" Jesus responds, "I’ve come that you might have life
and have it more fully." This story of the prodigal son is
about our Dad who longs for all his children to come home to
the lavish banquet hall where there is joy, there is peace,
where there is plenteous nourishment and drink. And the
ticket to that gathering is our response to God’s love. We
live that love by loving and caring for each other and for
the creation of everything the Creator has made.
Carol & Dennis Keller & Charlie
The Scrutinies – Third,
Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent (Year A Readings)
During the Lenten Season, there is an intense preparation
of persons wishing to become full participants in the
Catholic Community. Part of the protocol for The Rite of
Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a formal
examination of the candidates and catechumens who are
preparing for reception and/or baptism at Easter Vigil.
Beginning with the third Sunday of Lent, after the Homily
the assembly is asked to give their testimony as to the
commitment and moral practices of the candidates and
catechumens. On three Sundays, the gospel reading is from
John’s gospel. The stories are of the Samaritan Woman, the
man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus.
Saturday Paul Z. and I attended a morning of reflection
at St. Michael’s in Cary, NC. The leader was Christine
Miesowicz, a spiritual director and retreat leader of more
than fifteen years. Christine brought together these three
gospel stories in a helpful way. Her presentation was
compelling and enlightening. Each encounter of the gospels
of the three Scrutinies begins with a meeting, a coming into
the presence of Jesus. From that meeting three things
happen: there is a change in heart and mind of the person
met: there is a transformation in the heart and mind of the
person met: and there is a witnessing to others that calls
those others to belief, to faith in the message and mission
The encounter on the third Sunday of Lent is with the
Samaritan Woman at the cistern of Jacob in a Samaritan town.
This woman comes to the well at high noon, the hottest part
of the day and a time when she would be alone at the cistern
to draw water for her household’s use. She came there to be
alone, to avoid others. Was it because she wasn’t accepted
in the community? Was it because she was shunned because she
was a woman of loose morals because she wouldn’t or couldn’t
hold onto a husband? She came in shame, avoiding being part
of the community, ostracized and excluded.
The fourth Sunday encounter is with a man born blind.
That blind man came to Jesus’ attention because of how the
community viewed him. The question the crowd puts to Jesus
is whether it was this man who sinned or whether it was his
parents who sinned causing him to be born blind. Seems
strange that in the minds of the questioners this blind man
could have sinned before he was born. Or did they consider
God punishing this man because of what he would do after
birth? In any case, this man was not in the main stream of
society. He had to beg to survive. He could not see in both
a physical sense and a spiritual sense.
The fifth Sunday of Lent’s encounter is with a person who
had died. Jesus meets with the dead one’s sisters Mary and
Martha. Mary speaks of faith that whatever Jesus asks for
will happen. Martha is the forever practical one who
realizes that her brother was subject to the processes of
nature and his body would be making a stench. Lazarus was
truly excluded from society. He could not participate or be
included in life.
In all three encounters there is a change in the person.
With the Samaritan woman, following Jesus’ conversation, she
comes to see Jesus as a prophet. With the man born blind
there is an insight that comes to him when he is questioned
by religious leaders. He believes this Jesus is a prophet.
He has not yet seen Jesus with his eyes because Jesus sent
him away to wash in the pool of Siloam while he was still
blind. With Lazarus it is the crowd, Martha and Mary and
Lazarus that change – they came to believe in Jesus’ message
and his mission.
In all three encounters affected persons give witness to
their insight, their change of heart and mind. We wonder how
Lazarus felt; what he might have said to his sisters about
his death experience. How did Lazarus speak about his
experience – was there something he became conscious of
after he died? In all cases, there is the testimony of the
What happened to the woman at the cistern of the
Patriarch Jacob on the land that Jacob had given to his
favorite son Joseph? She received living water, which is
water that is running, full of life and vitality. Water is
necessary for life. For plants, there is no life without
moisture. Living beings cannot survive without water. The
living water promised by Jesus allowed this woman – this
outcast from Samaritan society, this reject of the People of
God in Judaea – to live a life freed from the shame of her
past, lifted up from her guilt, freed of disrespect because
of her nationality, and an overcoming of fear of others.
What happened to the man born blind was a whole new
existence, a new life, a life filled with light with which
he could walk, participate in community, and see the glory
of God in nature, in human relationships, and in the eyes
and sharing of family.
What happened to Lazarus was a calling forth. It’s
amazing to note that the gospel of John uses the verb "to
shout" only twice. One time is when Jesus shouts out to
Lazarus to come forth. The second time is when the crowd in
the Praetorium of Pilate shouts, "Crucify him! Crucify him!"
It is as though the shout of Jesus is to fullness of life.
It is as though the shout of the crowd leads to death. We
can imagine Lazarus, all tied up, struggling to answer
Jesus’ shout. Jesus commands the Jews mourning with Mary and
Martha to unbind him, to loosen the wrappings holding him
captive. How very true that the shout of Jesus to each of us
loosens attitudes, hatreds, enmity, violence, thoughts, and
actions that diminish our lives.
In all three of these stories we discover Jesus expanding
the possibilities of life. All the miracles of Jesus have
the result of bringing the one healed, freed of addiction,
loosed from the chains of Satan, and forgiven into full
participation in the community. In each case, the lives of
these persons are enriched and given greater possibilities.
Is that the reason during the period of the Scrutinies we
use these three narratives from John’s Gospel? Is our
message to those seeking to join out Community – our Church
– that living the Way of Jesus enlivens us, enriches our
lives, and frees us from shame, guilt, blindness, and even
death? The message insists human life is to be lived fully
here and now. Anything that lessens that freedom to life up
the possibilities God gives us is to be eliminated. We come
to eternal life by living this earthly life fully. In
another place in John’s Gospel Jesus is asked to explain the
purpose of his ministry, his mission, and his message. HIs
answer is so simple that we often gloss over it looking
instead to discover in the gospels and our faith a set of
complex rules, regulations, and rituals that save us from
hell. Jesus answers the question about his purpose by
saying: "I’ve come that you might have life, and have it
That is the message we -- the assembly called together
for mutual support, for loving compassion for each other in
our assembly – extend to those candidates and catechumens
seeking to join our spiritual family. It is also for us to
think about, to reflect on in these marvelous days of Lenten
practice of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. What is there
in our living that holds us back, that limits the joy and
peace of our days? What is there that will provide us with
living water to open our eyes to the wonder of God? What
force and call would loosen our bindings, freeing us for a
more complete, fuller life?
Our faith is contrary to the shouts of the crowds that
pursue division, denial of dignity and worth to others. The
way of the world would make us believe that wealth, power,
and fame are sufficient water to satisfy our thirst. Our
faith is contrary to the blindness imposed by the way of the
world, obscuring the wonder of God’s living presence with
us, through each other, and through creation. Our faith is
contrary to the violence, the hatred, the divisiveness that
murders others in the false judgement that such behavior
leads to winning.
Faith is not an easy thing! But it is the only reality
that fills our living with joy and with peace. Without it we
are the woman of shame, the man born without sight, and the
dead person all wrapped up in the confinement of
The short couple of hours at the morning of reflection
for music ministers were well worth the time. We appreciate
the insights and the breaking open of the Word of God that
lifted up our hearts.
THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD : 4TH SUNDAY LENT C
On all his days on earth Jesus shows pastoral care for
all sorts of people. But he shows a special affection for
poor unfortunate persons, and even for extortionists and
prostitutes. His opponents sneer: 'This man welcomes sinners
and eats with them' (Lk 15:2).
The warmth and generosity of his human caring and welcome
show that in the eyes of God they are not ‘rejects’,
‘outcasts‘, losers’ and 'no-hopers'. On the contrary, God
wants to put them back together again. So in and through
Jesus, those labelled the ‘lost’ come to meet the God of the
lost. It’s for their sake and in their defence, that Jesus
speaks his famous parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin,
and the lost son.
The story of the lost son, the most famous just shared,
has been called ‘the greatest short story in the world’.
It’s not really the parable of a prodigal, i.e. of a
spendthrift, as it’s usually called, but the parable of an
incredibly generous father of two sons (see v.11), who in
different ways have both lost their way in life.
The parable tells us a great deal about Jesus himself.
His own way of acting is the starting-point of the story.
He’s explaining why he 'welcomes sinners and eats with them'
(v.2). They’re the lost ones, the ones he’s bringing home to
God. For Jesus, all persons who have strayed from God are
not truly themselves. So, in the midst of his failures and
mistakes the lost son comes to understand that he will be
happy again only in the company and home of his father.
Meanwhile his father is longing for him to return, and as
soon as he catches a glimpse of his son returning, he starts
running along the road to embrace him and bring him home
When they reach the house, the father cuts short the
son’s prepared speech. There’s no reprimand, not even a
small dose of 'I told you so ...' There’s no pay-back, no
penance, no punishment and no recriminations. Instead the
father is so glad to have his son back with him again that
he gives him the robe of honour, the ring of authority, and
the sandals of a son.
The Pharisees, to whom Jesus was telling this story,
would have been shocked to the core at how Jesus was keeping
company with people who were not only outsiders but
‘sinners’, contact with whom would bring defilement. In a
sadistic way they were looking forward not to the saving but
to the destruction of those whom they so easily and so
self-righteously labelled ‘sinners’.
At the sound of music and dancing the eldest son comes in
from the fields. His father goes out to him and pleads with
him to come to the party (v.38). This eldest son believes he
has done everything 'right', and has spent his whole life
slaving away on the family farm. His attitude to his wayward
brother is one of utter contempt. He even calls the prodigal
not ‘my brother' but 'your son'.
In the details of his story, Jesus is saying that our God
is not a mean book-keeping God at all, but a warm, gracious
and generous Father who never stops loving, simply because
he never stops wanting to save. No matter how often we may
turn our backs on God and go away to do our own selfish
thing, God, as in the story, waits patiently for us to come
to our senses and return home. The moment we begin to admit
that our selfishness has brought us only frustration and
misery, shame, guilt, and self-loathing, God comes running
to hug us and take us back. There he treats us not as our
mistakes and sins deserve, but with tenderness and
compassion. In the Eucharist he even throws a party and
lavishes ‘welcome home’ gifts upon us – Christ himself in
his body and blood.
In conclusion, let me share with you a variation on the
story Jesus told. Once there were two priests in the same
diocese. One of them drank too much, he was often late for
appointments, the parish was deep in debt and his bookwork
was a mess. Yet the people loved him. The other priest was a
very capable and careful manager. He was very meticulous and
exact in everything. His book-keeping was impeccable and he
always treated everyone according to all the rules and
regulations of the diocese. His parish had no debt. In fact,
it owned substantial investments. Yet his people didn't
think much of him or warm to him at all.
That’s amazing. It seems unfair. It begs the question:
'What did the first priest have going for him that the
second one lacked?" Let’s try to figure that one out for
"Brian Gleeson CP" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
SEEING IN THE DARK: 4TH SUNDAY OF LENT A
You and I belong to a Christian community of stories and
storytellers. In the telling of the stories of Jesus
especially, our own stories are told. As we identify with
the people in those stories, with their distress, anger,
anxiety, hopes, fears, struggles, sadness and joy, we too
make living contact with our Saviour. We are challenged by
his words, supported by his love, and healed by his touch.
Today's gospel reading is the story of Jesus the Light of
the World. It’s the story too of the blind man. It’s our
story too. Three stories are interwoven and interconnected.
The blind man has lived in a world of darkness from the
day he was born. He has never seen his room, his table, his
chair, his bed, his door. He has never seen flowers, or
trees, or children. He has never seen anything or anyone.
Besides, he is poor and without any means of support. With
nothing like an invalid pension to ease his distress, he is
reduced to begging in the streets. His struggle for survival
is aggravated by abuse, insults and contempt from others.
Leading lights in his town are baiting him with their
ignorant accusation: 'Your blindness was caused by your
sins.' Even after his blindness is plainly cured they keep
up their sneers: 'What you allege just didn't happen. This
Jesus fellow is a sinner. Sinners cannot cure people.
Anyway, you weren't blind in the first place.'
All through his ordeal the patient sufferer never loses
his cool, and replies to every accusation with the
unvarnished truth. And through it all he grows in his
appreciation of the greatness of the one who helps and heals
At first he sees in Jesus a man with special powers, one
who can smear mud on a blind person's eyes and make the
sufferer see again. Next he comes to see that Jesus is a
prophet, a messenger of God. Finally he recognises Jesus as
his Lord and King, and bows down and worships him.
As the blind man's story unravels bit by bit, the story
of the greatness of Jesus is also told. He speaks and acts
as the light shining in the darkness, one which will never
be put out. He repudiates the prejudice that physical
blindness is caused by sin. He speaks of getting on with
God's healing work while there is daylight left to do it. He
sees the urgency of the blind man's plight and goes to the
rescue immediately. He ignores the ignorant and foolish
chatter of his enemies. And when the man he delivers from
blindness is expelled from the synagogue, Jesus seeks him
out and empowers him to develop a more lively faith, a surer
hope and a deeper love.
Where do we find our own story in all this? For each of
us, old, middle-aged, or young, the blind man's story is the
story of our becoming Christians, by means of both faith and
baptism. In the early days of the Church, when people were
baptised as adults rather than children, baptism had the
name 'The Enlightenment'. At our baptism, the priest lit a
candle from the Easter Candle, symbol of the Risen Lord, and
handing it to our father or godfather for us, said: 'Receive
the light of Christ.'
Even as the story of the blind man's enlightenment shows
us the influence of Jesus on the blind man’s honesty,
courage, determination, faith, hope and love, it also shows
us what it means to ‘walk always as a child of the light'
(as the ritual for Baptism puts it). It means nothing less
than seeing, feeling, judging and acting, as Jesus himself
has done. It means asking again and again that WWJD
question: ‘What would Jesus do?’
In Peter Shaeffer's play Equus, the psychiatrist remarks:
'I need a way of seeing in the dark.' In today's gospel
reading, St John leaves us in no doubt that Jesus is that
way. We are hopelessly blind if we think that we've got life
all figured out, or that we've got it all together, and that
we don't need Christ to enlighten us and show us a purer,
better, more genuine and more generous way of living.
In the light of the gospel today, each of us might surely
want to say to Jesus: 'Lord Jesus, how much blindness is
there still left in me? How much selfishness do I still
display? How much insensitivity, how much prejudice, how
much snobbery, how much self-righteousness, how much
hypocrisy, how much pride, how much contempt for others?
Lord Jesus, just how many blind spots do I have?' And each
of us might want to pray three famous short prayers: - 1.
'Lord Jesus, give us the grace to see ourselves as others
see us.’ 2. 'Lord, that I may see, Lord, that I may see.’
And 3. ‘Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my
roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.’
4th Sunday of Lent - Year C
What a great story Jesus tells his listeners and us - a
story about a family that is challenged with reconciliation.
Each of the three characters can open our eyes. I wouldn’t
be surprised if many of us could identify with at least one
of those characters. And perhaps some of us can identify –
at different times in our life - with two or all three of
First, we have the younger son. He didn’t want a father
any more, didn’t want limits, restraints, responsibilities,
relationship. He wanted out. He wanted the good life. Many
families can relate with that – someone who demands so much
attention, who causes so much grief, who costs so much
money. But the good life ended up working in a pig pen. We
don’t know how long it took him to have memories of a lost
home, a lost legacy, and, most of all, a lost relationship
with his family. We don’t know for sure if he came back home
because he was poor and hungry; or did he come home because
he was truly sorry. He doesn’t expect to be treated like a
son. He is willing to start over, to pay his dues, to try to
rebuild the bridges to his family. Has that ever been you?
Has that ever been someone in your family?
Then there’s the father, one of my favorite characters in
the Gospels. Can’t you just see him catching a glimpse of
his son in the distance and running down the road to meet
him with arms outstretched? He sees only the object of his
love, the one who, despite whatever he did, his still his
son. The hugs, the kisses, the robe, the ring, the sandals,
the party. There’s no "I told you so." When our children run
off – and some of them will – will we be able to welcome
them back like this father did?
Then there’s the elder son. He’s steady and obedient and
faithful and has served well. He’s there when you need him.
He’s loyal and dependable. And the father has taken the
elder son for granted. When was the last time he praised
him, told him how much he meant to him, that things would be
in a pretty mess without him, that he is grateful? More,
that he’s proud of him? Even more, that he loves him and
thanks God every day for him?
So we can resonate with the elder son and some of us can
identify with him. He is the housewife or mother who keeps
the family together emotionally and physically, but who is
utterly taken for granted, like an unpaid servant. He is the
father who works hard to raise his family, sacrificing his
own wants and pleasures so his kids can go to a good school,
but he is taken for granted. He is the loyal worker who is
there every day, taking no phony sick leaves, giving her
time and energy over and above what is required, and who is
taken for granted. He is the teacher who stays longer than
the bell, the crossing guard in the freezing rain, the
little league coach rushing home from work to make the game,
the mailman who delivers mail through the snow, the nurse on
the midnight shift, the garbage man who simply comes and
does his job, the friend you can count on – all taken for
Then let someone else do one little thing out of the
ordinary or let someone who is self-centered or uncaring do
something decent for the first time in their lives, and the
whole world throws a party for them. And the elder sons and
daughters of this world look on and shake their heads. It’s
not fair. In Jesus’ story, the elder son is angry. He
wonders why he never had a party like this, why his father
is so excited about a brother who has done so little for the
family. So the older son refuses to go to the party,
indulging in a little self-pity and a minor-league hissy
fit. Has that ever been you or someone in your family?
So, perhaps your family can identify with this family.
Sometimes we can leave the family without physically walking
out. We can withdraw, we can sulk, we can refuse to share.
And when that happens, our family longs for us to come back.
We need to not take for granted the good things that members
of our family do for us. In broken families, love and
forgiveness can heal – the love and forgiveness of God and
the love and forgiveness of each family member. God runs to
embrace us and we need to run and embrace one another. As
families, we need to celebrate our love, our presence. As
families, we need to let go of what binds and hinders us and
pass from famine to feast. Today can be a day to resolve
family issues, to recharge your family’ heart, to rekindle
your family’s love, to hug and kiss one another and have a
O'Neill, Diocese of Youngstown
Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and
insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the
preaching you hear. Send them to
email@example.com. Deadline is
Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.
-- Fr. John