You will be reading this on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, traditionally known as Laetare Sunday . The name comes from the first word of the opening prayer – Rejoice. This Sunday is a turning point in Lent. Prior to today, Lent has been trying to make us aware of our sinfulness and need for repentance. From today until the end of Lent, the focus will be on Jesus and all he has done for us – cause for rejoicing indeed.
In this A cycle, the Gospels are especially rich and rewarding. This Sunday, it is John’s story of the man born blind. Jesus, who is the light of the world, makes clay with his saliva, smears the clay on the eyes of the bind man, tells him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam. Jesus then waits for the outcries from those who had a vested interest in the man remaining blind. It is a great story of coming to see physically, leading to spiritual sight.
Next week is the story of the raising of Lazarus. Jesus who is the Lord of life, waits until his friend Lazarus has been dead many days. Jesus then calls him out of the tomb and Lazarus comes out alive. It is not Resurrection, but restoring the former life. Jesus demonstrates that he has the power here and now to give eternal life. It is a story of hopefulness preparing us for the days ahead to hear about death and Resurrection.
On a more personal note, Murphy, our dog, thought I should fill you in on something. He thinks I am turning into a tired, cranky old man, so let me explain! Last fall I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It is nowhere as bad as it first seems. My gleason score came in at 7 out of 10 (from 1 to 6 they just monitor you). Since I am at 7, I have had a hormone shot, am on medication and will start 8 weeks of radiation at the Whittingham cancer center. This is not life threatening and already my PSA has gone down significantly. Murphy just worries that I will become grumpier! I told him not to worry because all of you would keep me straight.
Last Sunday night, I had the 7th and 8th graders join with Fr. Rojin who anointed me with the oil of the sick. I wanted them to have the experience of praying communally for someone. We do it all the time after many of our Sunday Masses. Watch and you will often see a small group in the sanctuary surrounded by a priest and people praying for that person. It is a powerful experience.