Thursday, March 19, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Lent. Year A - Sunday, March 22, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Lent. Year A - Sunday, March 22, 2020

Readings for
4th Sunday of Lent A
1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6. "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want"
Ephesians 5:8-14
GOSPEL ACCLAMATION (John 8:12). Glory to you, Word of God, Lord Jesus Christ.  I am the light of the world, says the Lord. whoever follows me will have the light of life. Glory to you, Word of God, Lord, Jesus Christ.
John 9:1-41 - Man Born Blind

Image Credit: Shutterstock Licensed ID: 1344225065. Biblical vector illustration series. Jesus heals the blind man. By rudall30
Please listen to my audio recordings of the readings, prayers and reflections for the Fourth Sunday of Lent. Year A - Sunday, March 22, 2020, by clicking this link here:  (EPISODE: 214)
This weekend, we hear the wonderful psalm, that has brought so much comfort and strength in times of difficulty…  the Lord is my Shepherd…  I shall not want.. He leads me along the right paths; He preserves my soul…".    In addition, we have the amazing incident of Our Lord healing the blind man and the experts in the law refusing to accept it. This is a profound call for us to beware of any spiritual blindness our willfulness can cause.  The lord has come to shine his light of love, truth and healing upon the world and he invites us to stand on the right side of history.  


For people throughout the world dealing with the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. That the Lord will grant healing and strength and support the medical and emergency response people. Lord hear us.  Lord Save us. 
We continue to pray for all people throughout the world - the many people- who are suffering due to the Coronavirus pandemic -  We pray for those who have died, that the Lord will receive them into his care. For bereaved family and friends, who also have experienced the isolation from loved ones at this time of health-restrictions and quarantine. We also pray for everyone affected by this terrible illness, including all suffering the isolation and the severe economic and financial effects. May the Lord inspire people of goodwill to find practical solutions to help and heal and lessen the burdens of so many.

Many of you might remember the old Royal Brisbane Hospital -  It stood where the new high-tech buildings stand in Brisbane opposite the show grounds.  I remember visiting relatives at the old Royal Brisbane hospital as they recovered from surgery.  Back in the original days, there was a wonderful long open-balcony where patients could be wheeled out to sit in the sun because the benefits of getting a bit of sun was an important part of healing. The new building dispensed with this pleasing aspect. 

This little bit of history reminds me of the teaching in this weekend's second reading.   The Light of Christ casts away all darkness and not only shows up any flaws and faults but also shines its healing light upon our wounds.  The image is a powerful and positive one. 

Back in the days of Our Lord, the local merchants and their stalls would line the streets. Each one inside a little booth, covered in shade-cloths. A wise customer, when attempting to buy some fine silk or other precious items would take the product outside the entrance of the shop and hold it up to the sunlight, so that any flaws or damage would be easily revealed, which would be invisible to the eye in a darkened booth.  The wisdom of this image of Christ as the divine light who scatters the darkness of sin and death is powerful and deeply reassuring.

We Christians are encouraged by Saint Paul to be like children of light, and put away all the works of darkness. And the SIGN of being a child of light shines through in one's actions -    for he says, "the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness, right living and truth. And are completely inconsistent with the futile works of darkness."   We witness to the light of Christ shining in our hearts, by actions and attitudes which contrast sharply with the ways of secrecy, shame and darkness. The things which are done in secret are things that people are ashamed even to speak of; /  Sunlight exposes flaws…  But, sunlight also has medicinal value too, as we have mentioned. Its healing qualities for "killing off the bad" by opening up the wounds to the sunlight. So, our Christian path is not only about avoiding the exposure of our sins and the condemnation that follows, but more positively, to bring about healing and spiritual and moral resilience.'''

I love that first reading.  It reminds us that God is primarily concerned with what is within -  not merely outward appearances. God judges the heart and not by externals.  Look at that wonderful scene where God asks the Prophet Samuel to anoint the future King as the successor to King Saul. He visits Jesse and looks at each of the brothers.  The older brothers all look strong and tall and imposing, but none of them is acceptable to God. God judges from the heart…  they eventually run out of brothers, until Samuel finds out that the youngest and least likely one is not there. He has been overlooked. He is out looking after the sheep.  He is called in and chosen by God. God, by CHOOSING AND ANOINTING DAVID and not any of his BROTHERS, BY SAMUEL. The Oil is poured over his head, as a sign of God's choice and commissioning. He is not made king there and then. He actually goes back to his shepherding. But God has already chosen and anointed him for his future. Note, too that although God chooses from what is in the heart and not just the outward appearances, nevertheless, we are told that David still has a find bearing.   Being someone who is engaging to others, appealing and can draw people to oneself, this is an important value of a leader, but also, inside are innocence, godliness, righteousness, (later in this same chapter, he is described to King Saul as a "brave man and a warrior. He speaks well and is a fine-looking man. And the Lord is with him. All these inner qualities are also important. "(1 Sam 16:18, NIV).  

And then, in the wonderful Gospel, there are a FASCINATING SERIES OF ENCOUNTERS… and scenes. Our Lord cures a BLIND MAN ON the SABBATH. This leads to ridiculous arguments and questioning from the religious authorities. They question the once-blind man and when he answers them honestly, they don't want to hear his answer and throw him out saying "why would we listen to you. You are a sinner."  But THEY are the ones asking him the question. They are clearly able to see, but quite obviously spiritually blind and don't even know it. That very fitting saying – "there are none who are so blind as they who will not SEE!"  Meaning, of course – "Understanding cannot be forced on someone who chooses to be ignorant" or also the very similar saying "you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink."

Again, it is so important for us to realise that this incident is not in the Gospels to tell us how stubborn and willfully blind and stubbornly deaf people were two thousand years ago.  We too are quite capable of hearing without listening and looking without seeing. Refusing to be challenged or to change when the light is shone on our own faults or areas for growth.  

The man who was cured, meets Jesus again, (or actually, Jesus searches for him and finds him again). The cured man has a wonderful OPENNESS OF HEART AND MIND…    and he says to the Lord: "LET ME KNOW who this Son of Man is, so I CAN BELIEVE IN HIM…."  - "I want to believe, just show him to me." And Jesus says, "You are looking at him, it is me! " This man was open and ready. He did not say to our Lord. "look I am old and I have been through enough. I don't want any more. I am too set in my ways to change, so this is as far as I go. No, he was ready and willing.

 "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so."   
― Mark Twain

 Show us lord and we will believe and we will worship you!   Always open us,  so as to go deeper and immerse ourselves more fully into the light of Christ and the endless depths of Christ, who is THE  water of eternal life.
Fr Paul W. Kelly

Barclay, W. (2002). The letters to the Galatians and Ephesians. 3rd ed. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, pp.189-191.

Payne, D. (1982). I and II Samuel. Philadelphia: Westminster Press. P 81-83

** Jer. 5:21 (King James version): "Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not."      / "There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know. The proverb has been traced back in English to 1546 (John Heywood), and resembles the Biblical verse: Jer. 5:21. In 1738, it was used by Jonathan Swift in his 'Polite Conversation,' and is first attested in the United States in the 1713 'Works of Thomas Chalkley'..." 

Image Credit: Shutterstock Licensed ID: 1344225065. Biblical vector illustration series. Jesus heals the blind man. By rudall30
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Further information relating to the audio productions linked to this Blog:
"Faith, Hope and Love - Christian worship and reflection"  - Led by Rev Paul Kelly

Prayers and chants  — Roman Missal, 3rd edition, © 2010, The International Commission on English in the liturgy. (ICEL)

Scriptures - New Revised Standard Version: © 1989,  and 2009 by the NCC-USA. (National Council of Churches of Christ - USA)

"The Psalms" ©1963, 2009,  The Grail - Collins publishers. 

Prayers of the Faithful -   " Together we pray" by Robert Borg'.   E.J. Dwyer, Publishers, (1993) . (Sydney Australia).

Lenten Hymn: "Have Mercy"  inspired by Psalm 50(51). Music by Paul W. Kelly. Arranged and sung, with additional lyrics by Stefan Kelk. 2020. [ Production -  KER -  2020] 

May God bless and keep you.
Fourth Sunday of Lent. Year A  (Sunday, March 22, 2020)  (EPISODE: 214 )
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Coming together as brothers and sisters, with confidence let us ask the Fathers forgiveness, for he is full of gentleness and compassion
You were sent to heal the contrite of heart. Lord, have mercy.// You came to call sinners: Christ, have mercy. //You are seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us: Lord, have mercy.//
May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life.  Amen.
Memorial Acclamation
1. We proclaim your Death, O Lord, and profess your Resurrection until you come again.
Sunday Lent IV
Eucharistic Prayer I
Communion side.  PWK: 
thank you so much for taking this time with me to listen to God's word and for praising God for his goodness and care.}

Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.

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