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COMMENTARIES

1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a
The Church’s traditions for Lent are in full force here. Last Sunday God spoke to us through the incident of the Samaritan woman at the well, today he speaks to us in the Gospel of the miraculous healing by Jesus of the man born blind. Next Sunday he opens our hearts to the raising of Lazarus. These are to lead us into a renewal of faith as we witness the new members of the body of Christ through the Easter Sacraments.
It may seem a bit strange then for us to return to the selection by God of David to be king a 1000 years before the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. What catches our attention is that the anointing of David as king happens also in Bethlehem and this helps us to understand how the Jewish scribes (experts in God’s word of old) would report to Herod at the time of the magi that the Messiah would be found in Bethlehem, the place of the origin of King David. The chosen shepherd of Israel would be associated with Bethlehem in the land of Judah (Matthew 2). Jesus the Christ would be anointed with the Holy Spirit. He also would be chosen by the heavenly Father and, though an unlikely choice by human standards, would exhibit the wisdom and love and power of the Father above. This is the Jewish faith, tightly held in the hearts of God’s people for centuries. Our Christmas scriptures attest to this. Jesus is all of these and today’s Gospel of the healing of the man born blind will reveal all this and call us to renew ourselves along with all of God’s people in the covenant of old between God and his people. Today we make this tradition ours once again.

 

Psalm 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6

  1. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

 

How appropriate then is this magnificent psalm. We sing/read/listen with King David in mind as well as Jesus Christ who not only called himself the Good Shepherd but also acted that way (see the Gospel). We heard from the first reading that God is the one who makes the choice of his king on the earth to represent him. He has chosen his beloved Son. The divine power will be evident as he shepherds God’s people. One nuance of this psalm is God’s shepherding is ongoing. As presented to us in our translation it may come across as static whereas it actually is dynamic. So do not think of our Lord the Shepherd as a picture of God as an oil painting handing on the wall. Rather it gives us a picture of our God as actively engaged in pasturing his people. He has done so in the past but more importantly he is doing it NOW. (By the way we have the whole psalm here — a rarity for our responsorial which generally has just selected verses.) So every line of this psalm is telling us that the LORD Yahweh is actively engaged in our salvation this very day, this very time as we walk through the dark valley.

 

Ephesians 5:8-14

There is something very familiar about this reading. What is it? We find phrases here which we hear and use in our liturgies of Easter: children of light coming out of the darkness, now pleasing to the Lord, awake from sleep and arise from the dead Christ will give you light. The connection with today’s Gospel cannot be missed. Saint Paul makes it clear how we can say that we have been raised from the dead. This is because Christ the Light is within us. We no longer sleep. We awake to the sunshine. Sinfulness (opposition and rebellion to the Covenant) — are former way of life is replaced with a life harmonious to God’s plan for us. We are children of the light which uses the image of being born again — the image of our baptism. We recommit ourselves to live then our baptism, our reawakening to the light of Christ, our being raised from the dead. We are about to celebrate and live the resurrection.

 

Verse Before The Gospel 

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;

whoever follows me will have the light of life John 8:12.

 

John 9:1-41

The baptism reference reappears here in description of the man’s plight as an affliction from birth. Do not overlook the instructions given him by Christ is to go and wash in the waters of Siloam. This, too, recalls baptism. Then there is the joining of washing and seeing. Then there is the clay made into a salve used for the anointing of the man’s eyes. This brings to mind the creation of Adam and the recreation which Christ has made in us through a power that only the Creator has.

Perhaps we need to take notice of the disbelief of some of his contemporaries and the repeated efforts to draw an explanation from the cured man. God in his mercy has not forgotten them even in their refusal to accept what he is doing in our midst. God is merciful beyond compare. The cured man said to them: Do you want to become his disciples, too? The believers thus become a constant sign to the world of God’s saving presence among us of the Anointed of God. We have been baptized into the faith not just for ourselves but as living signs of God is among us with his healing and saving power. It is a continuing responsibility we have today. His gift of faith is to be shared. Take some of the final words of the Gospel to heart: I do believe, Lord and he worshiped him.