Fourth Sunday of Lent

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends,

I begin with a few questions.  Why did Jesus come to us?  Why was he born into humanity?  Why did he become one of us?  He came so that we might see!  Jesus sees the Father always, and Jesus came, he was born, and he became one of us to reveal the Father, whom we can’t see.  But in Jesus’ humanity we can see the Father, as Jesus says in John’s gospel, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (14:9).  The Christian life is about seeing Jesus and through Him; the Father. 

In our Gospel today we hear of the man born blind.  And that describes each one of us; we were all born into this world, blind, and unable to see the love of the Father through Jesus.  But then, shortly after our birth, we were baptized, made children of the Father, and as we matured we hopefully, learned how to see and love the Father, and to experience the Love of the Father. 

I know of a new Father whose wife gave birth to their first born about a year ago.  And this new Father dearly loves his new baby girl.  And from the moment of her birth, he would just stare at her, staring at her for hours, whether she was asleep or awake just staring at her, studying her face, studying all of her features, memorizing each one of them, the dimples, the fat cheeks, the tiny nose, the perfect little mouth, the beautiful blue eyes and so on.  His whole focus was on her.  The little baby, however, had a hard time focusing.  Like all babies, she stared off everywhere.  But the father continued his loving gaze, just waiting for her to return that look of love.  And she did, her eyes met the eyes of the one who loved her dearly.  She recognized the face of the one who loved her dearly. 

That baby is us sometimes, our eyes going in every other direction except towards Him.  Yet as our Father He is always looking upon us, He knows all of our features.  He knows them all.  He knows the number of hairs on our head.  He wants us to see Him, He wants us to recognize His love, and He wants us to understand that we are his dearly beloved children.  He wants us to see Him, seeing us.  He wants us to recognize how precious we are in His sight, precious not because of what we do, but because of who we are.  We are His beloved.  The Father loves us with the same love with which he loves his eternal son.

Jesus came to show us the Father.  And our end, our goal, is the Father.  We came from the Father and we go back to Him.  Jesus says, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms and I go to prepare a place for you.”  The Father’s love for each one of us is not some general concept, but rather very personal and particular.  And in this room we find a love of great intimacy.  This love of the Father is meant to set us free, free from fear, free from needing to be affirmed or praised or rewarded by others.  The Father’s love is enough. 

During Mass at the elevation of the Sacred Host and Precious Blood, the priest says, “Through Him and with Him and in Him O God Almighty Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit all glory and honor is yours forever and ever.”  Jesus offers himself to the Father and we are there too, offering ourselves to the Father, through Jesus, with Jesus, and in Jesus.  Giving everything to Him, looking to Him, returning that focused look of love. 

Right now we are gifted with the season of Lent, a season to help us refocus our sight on God, prayer, fasting, and giving to the poor re-orients us.  The Sacraments too re-orient us.  We go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to get our eyes refocused on the Lord, no more staring off after idols.  What is important in your life?  God, Family, Faith, Mass, Eucharist, parish family? 

We heard in the Gospel that the newly sighted man sees Jesus and worships.  May we come back from this season of Lent with perfect vision for what is truly important, with perfect vision for the Father and His great and intimate love for each one of us.

Peace and all good,

Fr. Christopher J. Ankley