This weekend we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent and the second of the rites of Scrutiny for our Elect. Once again, the readings proclaimed are from Cycle A in the Lectionary. Today’s Gospel passage is John’s account of the cure of the blind man. I think the last line of the Gospel is one to which we should pay close attention. Jesus was not just speaking to the Pharisees when he said, “If you were blind you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.” As we hear this passage today, we know that Jesus is also speaking to every one of us. I think if we are really honest with ourselves, we would admit that there are areas of blindness in our lives. We do not always see the big picture nor do we necessarily always have access to the big picture. Neither the Jews nor their religious leaders accepted the authority of Jesus as the Son of Man, nor did they accept his healing as coming from God. They had a certain mindset that could not be changed: all they knew how to do was to criticize what they were incapable of understanding or refusing to understand and accept. Like them, sometimes we prefer to think that we know what is best, that we are the authority on some things, and go “blindly on our way.” As we continue to answer the call to continuing conversion, let us pray that we may know the areas of blindness in our lives, and then ask Christ Jesus to be our light, our saving light who guides our thoughts and actions into the ways of unity, love, and peace.
Let us not forget this Year of Mercy as we continue to enter into our Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. In reflecting upon the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, we take some time to be enlightened as to how they have become a part of our everyday life as Christians. If we have not yet celebrated the sacrament of Penance this Lenten Season, taking some prayer time to think about each work of mercy may serve as a way to prepare for this sacrament, and help us to become conscious of our need for continued conversion these Lenten Days. You will find the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy for your reflection in today’s bulletin. Please also note the days and times for the individual celebration of the sacrament of Penance within our vicariate and the two upcoming coming celebrations of the Communal Rite of Penance.
The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy are not only individual practices. As a Church we are called upon corporately to make these a part of our parish life. I think Saint John Paul II Parish does a great job of practicing these works of mercy. So, for the next few weeks, I would like us to reflect upon how we, as a parish community, respond to the call of living out the Works of Mercy, what we do well, and what additional things we might consider doing regarding specific works of mercy. Today, let us take a look at the first two Corporal Works of Mercy: Feed the Hungry and Give drink to the Thirsty. As you know, our parish has a food pantry which serves close to 100 people a month. Our parishioners are very generous in donating food and supplies as well as making monetary donations to the food pantry. Many of us are conscious of making contributions to the Rice Bowl during Lent. (The idea behind fasting, eating simpler meals, and attending soup suppers is to donate what more we would have spent – or saved – to the Rice Bowl). There are some individuals who even help out at the Soup Kitchen in Saginaw once a week. Some of our parishioners provide meals for people when they are sick or for individuals who are elderly. Some go grocery shopping for those who are homebound. At each of their meetings, members of the Rosary Altar Society bring items for the food pantry. As a parish we make donations to places like Hidden Harvest, Mustard Seed House, and Emmaus House. I invite the Christian Service Commission to reflect on the Works of Mercy and suggest some additional ways in which we as a parish or as families can respond to the needs of the hungry and the thirsty.
I encourage all of us to read the flyer in today’s bulletin regarding Rice Bowl as well as review the flyer listing Lenten Prayer Opportunities. Remember, the church is open until 3:00 PM each Sunday of Lent for Prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
Blessings on your Lenten Journey!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ