March 30, 2014: Fourth Sunday of Lent
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
“The common good’s inclusiveness can only be recognized when the most vulnerable and marginalized in our midst, locally and globally, are active participants. When they lack the basic necessities of life, humanity denies their dignity.” From: https://cst74life.wordpress.com/
First Reading: 1st Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
Psalm: 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14
Gospel: John 9:1-41
Catechism of the Catholic Church
“…Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. Before faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and makes is easy for all to accept and believe the truth.” (153)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Fourth Sunday of Lent, Cycle A
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
1st Samuel 16:1-13
The prototype of the king chosen by Yahweh is David, whose humble origins are a favourite topic of the biblical account (cf. 1 Sam 16:1-13). David is the recipient of the promise (cf. 2 Sam 7:13-16; Ps 89:2-38, 132:11-18), which places him at the beginning of a special kingly tradition, the “messianic” tradition. Notwithstanding all the sins and infidelities of David and his successors, this tradition culminates in Jesus Christ, who is par excellence “Yahweh’s anointed” (that is, “the Lord’s consecrated one”, cf. 1 Sam 2:35, 24:7,11, 26:9,16; Ex 30:22-32), the son of David (cf. Mt 1:1-17; Lk 3:23-38; Rom 1:3).
The failure of kingship on the historical level does not lead to the disappearance of the ideal of a king who, in fidelity to Yahweh, will govern with wisdom and act in justice. This hope reappears time and again in the Psalms (cf. Ps 2, 18, 20, 21, 72). In the messianic oracles, the figure of a king endowed with the Lord’s Spirit, full of wisdom and capable of rendering justice to the poor, is awaited in eschatological times (cf. Is 11:2-5; Jer 23:5-6). As true shepherd of the people of Israel (cf. Ezek 34:23-24, 37:24), he will bring peace to the nations (cf. Zech 9:9-10). In Wisdom Literature, the king is presented as the one who renders just judgments and abhors iniquity (cf. Prov 16:12), who judges the poor with equity (cf. Prov 29:14) and is a friend to those with a pure heart (cf. Prov 22:11). There is a gradual unfolding of the proclamation of what the Gospels and other New Testament writings see fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, the definitive incarnation of what the Old Testament foretold about the figure of the king. (378)
1st Samuel 16:12-13
At the beginning of its history, the people of Israel are unlike other peoples in that they have no king, for they recognize the dominion of Yahweh alone. It is God who intervenes on Israel’s behalf through charismatic individuals, as recorded in the Book of Judges. The people approach the last of these individuals, Samuel, prophet and judge, to ask for a king (cf. 1 Sam 8:5; 10:18-19). Samuel warns the Israelites about the consequences of a despotic exercise of kingship (cf. 1 Sam 8:11-18). However, the authority of the king can also be experienced as a gift of Yahweh who comes to the assistance of his people (cf. 1 Sam 9:16). In the end, Saul is anointed king (cf. 1 Sam 10:1-2). These events show the tension that brought Israel to understand kingship in a different way than it was understood by neighbouring peoples. The king, chosen by Yahweh (cf.Dt 17:15; 1 Sam 9:16) and consecrated by him (cf. 1 Sam 16:12-13), is seen as God’s son (cf. Ps2:7) and is to make God’s dominion and plan of salvation visible (cf. Ps 72). The king, then, is to be the defender of the weak and the guarantor of justice for the people. The denunciations of the prophets focus precisely on the kings’ failure to fulfil these functions (cf. 1 Kg 21; Is 10:1-4; Am2:6-8, 8:4-8; Mic 3:1-4). (377)
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The blind man imitated Christ and acknowledged God, by replying “I am” to his neighbors and acquaintances that had seen him begging, but now looked in amazement at his transformation. As the scene unfolds, the healed man experiences degrees of conversion to the point he was thrown out of his realm of familiarity. He experienced the paradoxical essence of faith and surrendered to the mystery. A process of moving from darkness to light. To live as children of light, means imitating Christ with every kind of goodness, righteousness, truth and expose fruitless works of darkness, even on the Sabbath. Awakening from the darkness, don’t shutter your eyes with shades to continue your slumber, but welcomingly take the light Christ gives you. “Everything exposed by light becomes visible for everything that becomes visible is light.” Anointed with chrism, the Spirit is within us and our cup overflows. Goodness and kindness permeate all the days of our lives, as we dwell in the house of the Lord. Not a physical building, but the streets of life, where we offer light in every kind of goodness, as there are many ways to be light, as we imitate Christ. We must not acquiesce in fear, like the blind man’s parents, and deny our spiritual reality to retain a place of power or prestige. Our call is to seek those begging at the side of the road of life. Who has been pushed aside, neglected, stigmatized? How can you share the compassion and mercy of “I am” to them?
Individual Reflection: Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5,6
On this Laetare Sunday, a Sabbath of Joy, do an act of goodness for someone lacking joy in their life.
Family Reflection: John 9:1-41
Look at the ways you family can volunteer with an organization that supports the visually impaired in your community.
God thank you for awakening the blind spots in our life, so we see you with deeper acuity. Give us the courage to stop and be attentive to those that have been slighted and are begging for dignity by the side of the road of life. As you have anointed us, may your kindness flow through us. Help us to always be light, even when forces of cultural prestige and power seem in control. Thank you for refreshing our souls. In Jesus’ dear name, Amen.
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born March 21, 2014 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern