Preacher’s Sketchbook: Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 25, 2014
Each week, a Dominican member of the Province of St. Joseph’s Preaching Advisory Board prepares this Preacher’s Sketchbook in anticipation of the upcoming Sunday Mass. The idea of the Preacher’s Sketchbook is to take quotations from the authority of the Church–the Pope, the Fathers of the Church, documents of the Councils, the saints–that can help spark ideas for the Sunday homily. Just as an artist’s sketchbook preserves ideas for later elaboration, so we hope the Preacher’s Sketchbook will provide some ideas for homiletical elaboration.
St. Augustine, Tractates on the Gospel of John
It is you, eternal light, light of wisdom, veiled in the flesh, who say to every one: “I am the light of the world; he who follows me, will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” If I follow the earthly sun, no matter what I do to keep it in sight, it will leave me behind, since it must finish its appointed course each day. But you, our Lord Jesus Christ, although you are not revealed to all since you are veiled in the flesh, still you hold all things under the power of your wisdom. My God, you are everywhere whole and entire; and if I do not separate myself from you, you will never disappear from me. O Lord, I burn with longing for the light, as you know, for my every desire is before, and no groaning of mine is hidden from you. Who sees my desire, if not you, O my God? In order to have you, to whom can I turn but to you? Let my soul be enlarged through this great desire, make it stretch forward and become ever more capable of receiving what no eye sees, what no ear hears, and what no human heart has yet experienced!
St. Augustine, Confessions
Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! …You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Gospel of John
Sin is a spiritual blindness… The human race is blind from birth, because it contracted sin from its origin, for the blindness occurs through sin the first man, from whom all of us draw our origin.
St. Catherine of Siena, Dialogue
Clothe me, O eternal Truth, clothe me with yourself, that I may run my mortal course with true obedience and the light of holy faith, with which light I feel my soul is becoming enraptured.
Saint John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel
O blessed faith, you are to me certain but also obscure. You are obscure because you bring me to believe divinely reveal truths which transcend every natural light and infinitely exceed all human understanding. Your excessive light is darkness to my soul, for a brighter light eclipses and suppresses a dimmer one; the sun so obscures all other lights that they do not seem to be lights at all when it is shining, overwhelming my power of vision.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Lenten Message 2011
The Sunday of the man born blind presents Christ as the light of the world. The Gospel confronts each one of us with the question: “Do you believe in the Son of man?” “Lord, I believe!” (Jn 9:35. 38), the man born blind joyfully exclaims, giving voice to all believers. The miracle of this healing is a sign that Christ wants not only to give us sight, but also open our interior vision, so that our faith may become ever deeper and we may recognize him as our only Savior. He illuminates all that is dark in life and leads men and women to live as “children of the light”.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 2011 Homily
In opposition to the faith of the healed blind man, there is a hardening of the hearts of the Pharisees who did not want to accept the miracle, because they refuse to accept Jesus as the Messiah. The crowd, however, pause to discuss the incident and remain distant and indifferent. The same parents of the blind man are overcome by fear of being judged by others… We too because of the sin of Adam are born “blind”, but in the baptismal font we were enlightened by the grace of Christ. Sin had wounded human destined to the darkness of death, but Christ shines in the newness of life and the goal to which we are called. In Him, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, we receive the strength to overcome evil and do good. In fact, Christian life is a continuous conformation to Christ, the image of new man, to achieve full communion with God The Lord Jesus is “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12), because he “shines knowledge of the glory of God” (2 Cor 4:6) that continues to reveal the intricate story of the meaning of human existence. In Baptism the gifting of the candle, lit from the paschal candle, the great symbol of the Risen Christ, is a sign which helps to understand what happens in the Sacrament. When our lives are enlightened by the mystery of Christ, we experience the joy of being liberated from all that threatens our fulfillment. In these days which prepare us for Easter may the gift we received at Baptism be rekindled in us, that flame that sometimes threatens to be stifled. Let us nourish it with prayer and love of neighbor.
Sunday Preacher’s Resource
Additional Preaching Resources
- The USCCB: Lent Resources
- The Holy See: Lent
- Fr. Thomas Rosica (Salt and Light Media)
- The Torch
- Fr. Francis Martin Website
- Biblius Clerus, a resource of the Congregation for the Clergy
- The Catena Aurea of St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., for the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Image: Vasily Surikov, Christ Healing the Man Born Blind