Worship At Home, The Fourth Sunday of Lent

 

 

In these days of COVID-19 we want to offer an opportunity to have access to a Corpus Christi like online worship experience. This web page is our first attempt at that. Let us know what you think.


March 22nd, The Fourth Sunday of Lent


Opening Song (YouTube link):
God Of The Ages – Lori True


Let us begin, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Now, here in this place
with a moment of silence
to reflect,
to focus,
to be attentive to ourselves,
to one another,
and to the presence of Christ,
Grant us the goodness of your grace.
We ask this through Christ Jesus, our Lord.


The First Reading

A reading from the first Book of Samuel

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.

The Word of the Lord

 

The Psalm

Psalm (YouTube link):
Shepherd Me, O God – Marty Haugen

R. (1)  The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
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.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
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.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

 

The Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians

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.”

The Word of the Lord

 

The Gospel

Gospel Acclamation (YouTube link):
Mass Of Mercy – Lori True and Paul Tate

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, 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.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied,
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”

He said, “I don’t know.”

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.”

Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid
of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied,
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?

Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
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,
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.

The Gospel of the Lord


Homily

(from Fr. Parkos)

PERMISSION, NOT PERFECTION (Jesus heals the man born blind)

Please allow me to begin on a personal note:
There is something comforting in learning that Jesus knows how to spit!
Kind of a down–home feeling,
that says Jesus was / is just one of the guys /
just an ordinary human being / just like us.

Of course, in our culture, spitting is considered kind of crude.
Worse yet, spitting would have gotten him into big trouble
in the culture of his day.
At that time in the middle east,
by law, all bodily fluids were to remain inside the body at all times,
except for bleeding, and urination, and menstruation.
That and the fact that he was healing on the Sabbath … scandalous!
And don’t think that the powers that be didn’t notice and pounce.

Remember, Jesus stood in solidarity with us all during his lifetime,
but especially at the end of his earthly life – on the cross.
He had no need to placate an angry God by dying
because of the sin in his life.
He placed himself in solidarity with all of human life.
Yes, our bad choices, but also, all the worst of the human condition,
and the hopelessness of our situation in world cultures –
situations of wars, famine and oppressions of many kinds.
… So that the Divine Self, on the cross, joined us in the worst,
to be able to turn the worst into the best
and into realizing the full potential of why God created us.
All of this fulfillment is called the resurrection!
This paves the way for the right relationship between God and humanity becoming more and more surely a reality.
I am convinced God’s grand plan is what keeps tugging at us,
and keeps us reaching for that higher goal
that will, finally, satisfy all our longings and all of our goal-setting.
And I believe it is God who is drawing us, inviting us, coaxing us
to hang on and keep trying.

The object is not to produce anything
to meet some external criterion of technical excellence,
but to discover ways to express our own deepest Self.
So what we need to offer God is not some kind of perfection.
Instead we need to offer God permission…
permission to be creative in / with / through us!

[There is, of course, that Passage in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:48),where Jesus says, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Perfection if a process. All of us are a work in progress.
And as long as each of us is somewhere in the process,
we fit the bill for what Jesus is working in us. ]

Offering to God the ordinariness of our lives is so very important
largely because, in many cases,
what blocks people from the next step of growth on our life journey
is simply fear of the unknown,
or taking a big chance of looking like a fool.
That can be very inhibiting.

It is hard to survive childhood,
at least in the institutions of Western civilization,
without getting some very negative messages about “making a mess.” Unfortunately, what our parents / ancestors and other mentors
defined as “mess”
is very likely to be the only raw material available for our
(we and God together) own creativity.
After all, the Genesis narratives indicate
that God brought forth creation from a “formless deep”
[I found out that the Babylonian word for “formless deep”[/chaos]
is “tohuwabohu” (sp?) ]
and made humankind from the dust of the earth;
and, in today’s Gospel account,
Jesus is reported to have made mud of spittle and dust
to restore a man’s sight.

Stirring up the primal chaos, and blowing on dust, and making mud-pies, are not exactly the images one might choose
to portray a reality in which everything is “supposed” to be
neat and tidy, ordered and controlled and perfect and correct.
My own suspicion is that this primal chaos is God, from “the beginning,” just as the ordering principle, the blueprint, the Word / the Logos,isGod.
Remember the beginning of John’s Gospel account says,
“The Word (Logos), through which all things were made, was / is God” (John 1:14).

I find this concept delightfully reassuring and redemptive:
maybe God even has use for the messes that I make or fall into!
In fact, as God creates what is “very good”
from what appears, to our limited perspective, to be a colossal “mess,”
so too I think it is not only legitimate but essential
that we, who are made in the image of God,
should also reach deep
into the freedom and potentiality of our “inner formlessness.”
What is at our deepest center is not the darkness of evil,
but the darkness of a marvelous mystery,
and it is our proper purpose to explore that darkness
and worship our God by what we (we and God together)
bring forth from it
into the light of our conscious Being / maturing / evolving.

I emphasize this point, because I know intimately
how debilitating the trap of perfectionism can be
(I myself am a (not so) recovering perfectionist and workaholic!),
(the trap of perfectionism,)
particularly in a society subject to the double whammy of
the “Puritan work ethic” and the achievement-orientation of materialism. When one has felt the temptation, feeling compelled to rate oneself
either one hundred percent or an absolute zero,
it is refreshing to realize
that the God who can bring grace and glory
out of something as utterly depraved as the crucifixion
can surely handle the old saying:
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”

So let’s try again … and again … and again.
But each time, let’s … be creative, but in a little different way.
In this way we are joining / partnering with our creative God.
I am sure you noticed that Jesus said (John 9:4),
“WE have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.”
In repeating the word “work,” Jesus uses an all-encompassing term
for God’s deeds of creating, healing, forgiving, and saving, sharing,
actions in which Jesus shares … and so do we..
Jesus, the One sent by God, is not alone in doing the works of God. Speaking to his disciples, he says wemust do the works of God,
thereby including them (and us!) in participating in God’s saving works.

If we are alert as we go through our days,
we will notice opportunities to tie into the spiritual journey
to which Jesus invites us.
It is a journey of making better choices, more life-giving choices,
[ Remember that this is what the word “repentance” is all about!) ]
that will have us arrive at the goal
that will satisfy our deepest longings as human persons.
And that is doable and will be truly satisfying!!!

I can’t make all this happen by my own willpower.
But I don’t have to make all this happen all alone.
All I can / need to do is agree with and cooperate with
(giving God permission for)
what God is already doing in me.
And of course I also have you (the church community),
to model the better way, and support me / and affirm me,
and call me to be accountable for my choices and my actions.
And, surprisingly, that will be / is enough to make it happen !!!

“Enough” is a wonderful word!
It means something at least a little different to every person.
But God sees to it that it (“enough”) meets all our needs
and most of our wants.

 

Another Reflection
This Sunday is the Fourth Sunday in Lent. In the Gospel reading we continue to walk with John. Jesus comes across a blindman and the disciples ask: “Rabbi, who sinned this man or his parents?” Jesus answered “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” The passage begins by refuting the Jewish idea that illness or any disability was a punishment for sin. Jesus spits on the ground to make mud and spreads it on the man’s eyes telling him to go wash in the pool of Siloam, the same pool that was a part of the ritual of Tabernacles. When he washes it off, he can see. His neighbors do not believe him at first, the Pharisees are upset that the cure happened on the Sabbath. Some begin to doubt the man was born blind in the first place. Two times the authority calls the man in, and interrogates him. Two times the man gives the glory to God. They cannot see the prophet, the man from God, that this formerly blind man now sees. They cannot see the new life, the new man, the new creation that bears the testimony to the man from God. Two times they turn a blind eye to this man and his God. They have chosen power, rules and boundaries over the truth and their eyes have grown dim. The people of the town all looked at this guy but never saw him. He was the blind guy, begging, day after day. They walked by, they wondered what sins were committed, but they never saw him as a worthy human being. Jesus stopped and saw him, just as he saw the woman at the well last week. Before today it was as if this man didn’t even exist. He was a life waiting to be born, a light waiting to shine, a word waiting to be spoken. As Jesus stops and sees the man and calls him to new life, this man becomes a new creation, he was enlightened, he became a living testimony to the Son of Man, but the Pharisees still don’t see him. Jesus miraculously remedies a physical need (in this case blindness). He is the light of the world come to banish its darkness. The Jewish authorities, despite their physical capacity for sight, are shown to be the one who are truly blind and trapped in darkness because they deny the light that is before their very eyes. The blind man exemplifies a journey to faith, from blindness to sight, from ignorance to true knowledge of Jesus.

Who are we in this story? The blind man, the villagers, or the Pharisees? Jesus could have completely healed this blind man with a word, why go through the extra motions? Jesus approaches each person in a slightly different way. He meets them where they are at, physically, mentally and spiritually. Some he heals with a word, some with a touch, some have a prayer beforehand, some do not. Some are healed from a distance, some in private, and some in public. We hear in this account a very personal encounter with Jesus Christ. We can think we are living in the light, but we too can be blinded to the truth of what the Gospel can ask of us. This time of self-quarantine for COVID-19 can be a time of soul-searching, making sure our eyes have not been dimmed by complacency or comfort. The precautions we take today are for the good of the whole human kind, the young the old, all races and religions, to keep the amount of serious cases and infections down to a manageable size. We can pause for a moment and pray that we might go about our day like the man healed by Jesus with eyes open to see those opportunities where we might exercise the healing power of Jesus and the Good News. Simplicity and sacrifice for the good of others is needed now. It is true that God permits us to live in an imperfect world where we are prone to illness, but that same God gives us the freedom to be creative in the face of adversity, to be compassionate with those who are sick and free to believe there is a purpose for each human life. God is the source of all love and our constant companion giving us courage and strength to overcome any adversity. Fear has a way of blinding us, it rivets our attention on that thing we fear to the exclusion of everything else around us. We lose perspective. That one thing is all we can think about, all we can see. Our world view and our vision becomes myopic, nearsighted to the point of exclusion. Don’t just look around, look within, what do you see? Where is the mud of darkness in our lives? Are we paralyzed by fear? Can we no longer see light? What about our responsibility to one another? How might Jesus as a prophet help us there? Acknowledge that and then go wash. The mud of darkness always gives way to the light of Christ. When we live and see with our eyes closed, we withhold mercy, live in fear, and let anger control our lives. When we are unforgiving to another, we see with eyes closed. Sometimes we either refuse or are unable to see the pain or needs of another. We are too busy to respond, too important to deal with it, and too afraid to risk it, we are seeing with eyes closed. When we love ourselves more than our neighbor we are seeing with eyes closed, blind to the value of the other’s life. Pray for all those who lives are put on hold for an undetermined amount of time, for Seniors in High School, College, those with wedding plans, those isolated in Senior Centers, those struggling to protect compromised immune systems, those with businesses to run, mouths to feed, those in the middle of cancer treatments, and those with dreams dropped or lives lost because of this pandemic. Let us not be closed eyed people. Let us see with open eyes. Let us see the beauty, the hope, the goodness in each day. Let us see and acknowledge the pain and loss. Let us find new ways to pray as a community. Let us take it all in and then by the grace of God, begin to close the gap between what is and what might have been by compassionately being present to each other, by being creative in our ways of reaching out and connecting with people. Knowing that we are not alone and one day soon we will gather again as before. Love lies at the heart of Jesus and with open eyes he sees in us more beauty, more goodness, more holiness than we often see in ourselves and each other. Let us each help make visible the works of God.


Prayers of the Faithful

Sung version:
Prayers of the Faithful

Loving God, you came to unite the whole world together in you. Heal all that divides us, we know your will for all people is health and salvation. In this stressful time hear our prayers and let our cries come to you.

For all who seek your guidance, and to all who are afraid, anxious, or overwhelmed: May we feel your presence and let your peace and harmony reign in our homes…

We pray to the Lord

For all physicians, nurses, and all others who minister to the sick and suffering; keep them safe and healthy; and grant them wisdom, skill, sympathy, and patience…

We Pray to the Lord

For our President, Congress, Governors, Mayors, Archbishop Hebda and all other leaders: May they receive the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice, to faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people…

We pray to the Lord

For wisdom, creativity, and perseverance to all medical professionals, researchers, policy makers and leaders as they respond to this pandemic: May they be guided by the Holy Spirit in finding and developing the resources and medical skills to contain and end this pandemic…

We pray to the Lord

For those who will lose their jobs or be financially affected by COVID-19: May we open our hearts and hands to assist where we can, with compassion for those in need, patience in this time of distress, and love for our neighbors…

We pray to the Lord

Pour out your healing grace on all who are sick; May we recall that you have made all peoples of the earth of one blood, and that our life and death are with each other…

We pray to the Lord

For all who grieve the death of family, friends, and citizens: May they have the courage and strength to meet the days ahead…

We pray to the Lord

Let our hearts not be afraid. Healing Lord, accept the fervent prayers of your people; in the multitude of your mercies, look with compassion upon us and all whom turn to you for help; for you are gracious and to you we give glory.

We ask this through Jesus Christ the Lord. AMEN


Closing Song (YouTube link):
Jerusalem, My Destiny – Rory Cooney