Fourth Sunday of Lent (A)
March 19, 2023
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.




O God, who through your Word
reconcile the human race to yourself in a wonderful way,
grant, we pray,
that with prompt devotion and eager faith
the Christian people may hasten
toward the solemn celebrations to come.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (RM)

Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down
from heaven to be the true bread which gives life to the world:
Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in
him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one
God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP)

Gracious God,
in order that the children of earth
might discern good from evil
you sent your Son to be the light of the world.
As Christ shines upon us,
may we learn what pleases you,
and live in all truth and goodness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCW)

First Reading 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13

The LORD said to Samuel:
“Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
   for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”

As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice,
   Samuel looked at Eliab and thought,
   “Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel:
   “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
   because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
   because man sees the appearance
   but the LORD looks into the heart.”
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
   but Samuel said to Jesse,
   “The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
   “Are these all the sons you have?”
Jesse replied,
   “There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
   “Send for him;
   we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
   and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
   “There—anoint him, for this is the one!”
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
   anointed David in the presence of his brothers;
   and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.

Responsorial Psalm (Ps 23:1-3a,3b-4,5,6) 

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
   In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
   he refreshes my soul.

He guides me in right paths
   for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
   I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
   that give me courage.

You spread the table before me
   in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.

Only goodness and kindness follow me
   all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
   for years to come. 


I rejoiced when it was said unto me: "Let us go to the house of the Lord." V/. Let peace reign within your walls, and abundance in your towers.

Second Reading Ephesians 5:8-14

Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
   but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
   for light produces every kind of goodness
   and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
   rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention
   the things done by them in secret;
   but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
   for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore, it says:
      “Awake, O sleeper,
      and arise from the dead,
      and Christ will give you light.”

Verse Before The Gospel  (Jn 8:12) 



Gospel John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva,
   and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him,
   “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam”—which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
   “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, “
   but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
   “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
   “This man is not from God,
   because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
   “How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
   “What do you have to say about him,
   since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

They answered and said to him,
   “You were born totally in sin,
   and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
   he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
   “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
   “You have seen him, and
   the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
   “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

Reflection Questions:

How have you misjudged on the basis of appearance?

How are you learning what is pleasing to the Lord?

How does the story of the man born blind challenge conventional views of sin?

Catena Nova

I ask you, what is Jesus trying to convey to us by spitting on the ground, mixing his spittle with clay and putting it on the eyes of a blind man, saying: Go and wash yourself in the pool of Siloam (a name that means ‘sent’)? What is the meaning of the Lord’s action in this? Surely one of great significance, since the person whom Jesus touches receives more than just his sight. In one instance we see both the power of his divinity and the strength of his holiness. As the divine light, he touched this man and enlightened him; as priest, by an action symbolizing baptism he wrought in him his work of redemption. The only reason for his mixing clay with the spittle and smearing it on the eyes of the blind man was to remind you that he who restored the man to health by anointing his eyes with clay is the very one who fashioned the first man out of clay, and that this clay that is of our flesh can receive the light of eternal life through the sacrament of baptism. You, too, should come to Siloam, that is, to him who was sent by the Father (as he says in the gospel, My teaching is not my own, it comes from him who sent me). Let Christ wash you and you will then see. Come and be baptized, it is time; come quickly, and you too will be able to say, I was blind, and now I can see, and as the blind man said when his eyes began to receive the light, The night is almost over and the day is at hand. (St. Ambrose of Milan)
Those who have been freed and raised up follow the light. The light they follow speaks to them: I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness. The Lord gives light to the blind. Brethren, that light shines on us now, for we have had our eyes anointed with the eye-salve of faith. His saliva was mixed with earth to anoint the man born blind. We are of Adam’s stock, blind from our birth; we need him to give us light. He mixed saliva with earth, and so it was prophesied: Truth has sprung up from the earth. He himself has said: I am the way, the truth and the life. We shall be in possession of the truth when we see face to face. This is his promise to us. Who would dare to hope for something that God in his goodness did not choose to promise or bestow? (St. Augustine of Hippo)
The pursuit of the contemplative life is something for which a great and sustained effort on the part of the powers of the soul is required, an effort to rise from earthly to heavenly things, an effort to keep one’s attention fixed on spiritual things, an effort to pass beyond and above the sphere of things visible to the eyes of flesh, an effort finally to hem oneself in, so to speak, in order to gain access to spaces that are broad and open. There are times indeed when one succeeds, overcoming the opposing obscurity of one’s blindness and catching at least a glimpse, be it ever so fleeting and superficial, of boundless light.  (St. Gregory the Great)

Then You, in person, pitied me and looked upon me,
when You shone Your Light into my darkness, You converted me
and drew me to Yourself, O my Creator.
And when You had snatched me out of the depths of the pit …
of this life’s pleasures and desires,
then You showed me the way and gave me a guide
who would lead me to Your commandments.
I followed him, followed him without a care …
but not only that, when I saw You there – You my Good Master –
together with my guide and my Father,
I experienced inexpressible love and desire.
I was beyond faith, beyond hope
and said: “Now indeed I see the good things to come” (cf. Heb 10:1),
the Kingdom of Heaven is there.
I saw before my eyes those things “that eye has not seen
nor ear heard
”(Is 64:3; 1 Co 2:9).” (St. Simeon the New Theologian)

All you souls devoted to God, run with intense desire to this fountain of life and light, and cry out to him with all the power of your hearts: “O inaccessible Beauty of God most high, purest Clarity of the Eternal Light, Life imparting life to every life, Light imparting light to every light, keeping in eternal brilliance a thousand times a thousand lamps that brightly shine ever since the primeval dawn! O eternal and inaccessible, clear and sweet Stream from the Fountain invisible to all mortal eyes: your depth knows no bottom, your width knows no shore, your vastness no bounds, your clearness no taint!” From this fountain comes forth the stream of the oil of gladness…whose runlets gladden the city of God, and the powerful and fiery torrent of the pleasure of God, filling with joyful inebriation the celestial guests who forever sing their hymns of praise. Anoint us with this sacred oil; quench with the longed-for waters of this torrent the thirst of our burning hearts, so that, amid loud cries of joy and thanksgiving, we may sing to you a canticle of praise and learn by experience that with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light. (Saint Bonaventure)

The Fathers see in this [healing] the direct continuation of the creation of Adam. In the beginning, they say, God formed a body from the earth and breathed the breath of life into it. Now, in the fullness of time, the Logos made man, the right hand of the Father and creator, comes to heal the man whom Satan’s darkness has made blind. And, that there may be no doubt that here is nothing except the continuation of that initial work…Jesus takes a bit of “the earth’s slime,” makes clay of it, and puts it on the eye of the blind man. The incarnate God moistens the earth with his spittle. Things of heaven and things of earth, earth’s matter and God’s life, just come together to make man and to make him anew. But the third element, the real new creation, the purification from what is old, from the corruption of sin, the healing from the blindness of sin as it is given to us, is water, the image of baptism….The water takes his sickness from man, his leprosy and blindness. The name of the pool points to the mystical character of this water. It is called Missus, the one sent. Christ himself, the Messiah whom the Father has sent, is the pool, as he is the living water which fills the well of his Church; his blood poured out on the cross is the healing water for man, made sick and blind through sin. The death of Christ is his baptism for the forgiveness of sin and the illumination of his mind. It gives health and light, purity from sin, and faith. “I went and washed and saw, and I found faith in God” is the joyful speech of the man born blind in the sin of Adam and now healed….The Church could not express more immediately or spontaneously her deep belief in the presence of the saving action of the new creation, when she celebrates the Mass…. Christ is present, he holds the earth which heals in his hand: it is his sacred flesh, his human, earthly body. The mysterious pool of Siloe is represented by the chalice, with its precious water and blood from the wound in the side of the crucified. Everything is ready for healing and for illumination. And we who were born blind are there. Baptism has indeed given us sight. (Sister Aemiliana Löhr)

Acting as children of the light requires a radical change of mindset, a capacity to judge men and things according to another scale of values, which comes from God.   What does it mean to have the true light, to walk in the light?   First of all it means abandoning false lights – the cold, vain light of prejudice against others, because prejudice distorts reality and ladens us with aversion to those whom we judge without mercy and condemn without appeal.  (Pope Francis)


     I have needed glasses since third grade.  When LASIK came along, I jumped at the chance to get rid of them.  That little miracle lasted a few years — oh, I still have 20/20 distance vision — but over time my middle-aged eyes lost the ability to see much close-up.  So while spared bifocals, I now have reading glasses in pretty much every room of the house. 
Vision problems, of course, serve in the Bible as a metaphor for other kinds of near and far-sightedness. Samuel, for instance, assumed that God would go for things like height and maturity--a lofty stature--in choosing a king for Israel.  But God didn’t choose any of Jesse’s hotshot sons, but chose David the youngest instead -- the one out tending the flock.  Like my inability to see up close, Samuel was too shortsighted to realize not as humans see does God see, because humans see the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart (I).
     Now those Pharisees needed reading glasses too.  They even misread the Bible.  They assumed Jesus couldn't be from God because he cured a blind man on the Sabbath — failing to see how doing good was no violation of God’s law, but a sign of who Jesus is, so that the works of God might be made visible through him (G).  But worse than that, they assumed the man born blind was being punished for some wrong he or even his parents had done ‘cause, after all, anyone who suffers misfortune like that must have done something to deserve it. Forgetting that a whole book of the Bible is devoted to demolishing that belief — the Book of Job — as I hope those of you reading Job on my website have been learning this Lent.
     But we can make all such misguided judgments can’t we?  Thinking that when things go right, it’s because we’re devout and doing God’s will (G).  And when things go wrong, it’s because we’ve done something bad. Like the Pharisees, it’s easy to assume that people blessed with riches, talents, or looks, are somehow favored in God’s sight.  If you win the lottery, it’s because “someone up there” likes you. And just like the Pharisees, it’s easy to assume when people are down on their luck, they just might be getting what they deserve. Look at the judgments made about people who receive public assistance, or homeless people, or immigrants. However, the Bible thinks differently.  It’s always telling us we need corrective lenses to see things aright when it comes to God’s ways — and often enough, we need those reading glasses to clear our blurred vision about things right in front of our eyes. That’s why Paul tells us, Be correct in your judgment of what pleases the Lord (II). Because our spiritual vision can be so dim that we stumble around looking -- but not seeing.  For these eyes are so often out of focus.
     I remember one time I was in a hospital cafeteria when I saw a couple of little kids going up to the menu board and begin to erase what was written there.  And I saw their mother paying no attention.  I thought to myself, “Doesn’t she see what her children are doing?  Parents these days let their kids do whatever they want.”  But then I noticed a seeing-eye dog beneath the table where she was sitting.  And realized, no, she couldn’t see her kids at all — and I wasn’t seeing anything.  
It's true.  We’re quick like the Pharisees to dismiss someone, so sure we’re in the right, and they’re in the wrong.  Just look at the snap judgments made these days about people of Muslim faith or African descent or Central American refugees or whoever your political opponents happens to be.
      But that’s why we have Lent.  A time to clean our lenses, check our prescription, get bifocals — if you need them !  All in order to see God, others, and ourselves, more clearly — especially those right in front of us where we may need glasses the most.
Catechumens preparing for baptism have been doing that for a long time: having their eyes examined.  And on these Sundays of Lent they partake of rites called the “Scrutinies”— today is the second of three — all to make sure their vision is as sharp as can be.  So when they’re baptized at the Easter Vigil, they’ll know very well why baptism once upon a time was called “illumination.” 
     And yes, there was a time when we were darkness too, but now we are light in the Lord (cf. II).  For there was a day, I assume, when we all put on glasses for the first time, and saw how much we were missing, how out of focus were were, without belief in Christ, the light of the world And should anyone ask us, “How were your eyes opened?” I assume we’d be able to tell them: that man they call Jesus did it, and now I can see For we have [indeed] seen him who lives and reigns, forever and ever. Amen (cf. G).



For the Church: that we may share the light of the Gospel with all who are struggling to recognize good from evil, truth from lies, and selfless love from self-serving activity.

For a spirit of respect: that we may honor each person who enters our life, particularly those with physical limitations, and encourage them to use their gifts and enrich the community.

For all who are bound by the blindness of prejudice: that God will free them judging others and open their eyes to the value and dignity of each human person.

For government officials: that God will anoint their minds and hearts so that they may promote the well-being of all whom they serve, particularly the vulnerable and powerless of society.

For all who have no sight or who losing their sight: that they may experience God’s presence with them and God’s guidance in living their lives fully.

For insight and openness to caring for our environment: that God will help us to see the damages that have been done to our air, water, and land, and guide us in developing policies that will protect the environment from further harm.

For all whose lives are darkened by alcohol, drugs, or pornography: that the light of the Gospel may shatter their darkness and open a path to living a new life.

For all who live in the darkness of violence, warfare, or human trafficking: that God will comfort all who are in pain, bring light into their lives, and speed the assistance that they need to find new communities.

God our Creator,
show forth your mighty works
in the midst of your people.
Enlighten your Church,
that we may know your Son
as the true light of the world
and through our worship confess him
as Christ and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
holy and mighty God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

 Offertory Antiphon


Offertory Hymn

In your merciful loving kindness, you took flesh for us O Christ our God. You gave light to a man who from his mother's womb lived in darkness. How boundless is your compassion! You anointed his eyes with the mud your fingers had molded and made him worthy to be flooded with light divine! So now enlighten us O Giver of light; illumine the eyes of our hearts, for you alone are the Fountain of grace!

Communion Antiphon


Concluding Hymn (Amazing Grace; Andrea Bocelli)


Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T’was grace that taught my heart to fear.
And grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.