YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY OF LENT
HOMILY THEME: INVITATION TO BE JOYFUL
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: In the midst of the penitential Season of Lent and especially during this moment of global crisis as a result of the Coronavirus Epidemic, the Liturgy of the Fourth Sunday of Lent invites us to be joyful. The invitation to be joyful is not oblivious of our present predicament and of the spiritual disposition required of us. The invitation to be joyful is the fruit of the certainty of our faith in the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who at Easter will come out victorious from the walls of the tomb; and Who is also victorious over all forms of calamity and catastrophe; He is indeed victorious over Coronavirus. May the power in His victory lead us to the joy of our salvation; Amen.
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is traditionally known as the Laetare Sunday (Joyful Sunday), in which there is a moment of anticipation of Easter joy within the Season of Lent. This moment of joy is visibly shown with the colour (Rose) of the vestment that could be worn by priests and with which the Altar and other sacred places could be decorated. The colour Rose is gotten from a little mixture of white (that is traditionally the sign of joy and victory) to the violet/purple that is the traditional colour for Lent. To be joyful is an essential element of our faith in Christ, especially in connection with the victory of Christ over sin and death. We have every reason to entertain this moment of joy, even amidst the tragedy of the moment, because Christ is opening our eyes to see what is truly necessary. The truth remains that within this short period of time, we have seen how weak we are, how fruitless and damnatory is our total dependence on created things to survive, how much our accumulation of worldly goods cannot in anyway be of help to us, how meaningless is the amassment of sophisticated weaponry, how much powerless we are before this smallest but most powerful virus and how much we need to recourse to our Creator. It is disastrous! Yes it is! But it is also a moment filled with many lessons and the greatest of these lessons is that God is opening our eyes to see what truly matters.
Being carried away by what the physical eyes can see has always been a problem that some men and women, of every place and time and of every age and generation, find difficult to deal with. The great prophet Samuel fell into this trap in the First Reading of today (I Sam 16:1, 6-7, 10-13) that he was carried away by the physical appearances of the first seven sons of Jesse. God had to caution him, “God does not see as man sees: man looks at appearances but the Lord looks at the heart.” It takes some level of spiritual maturity to look beyond the physical and beyond that which happens within space and time, to see the message God is passing on to us. It also takes some level of spiritual maturity to look beyond this tragedy of the Coronavirus to see the message therein. This level of spiritual maturity can only come about by a special encounter with God just like the blind man in the Gospel Reading of today (John 9:1-41). Like this blind man, it is time to sincerely and convincingly profess “Lord, I believe”, led by our daily experiences and encounter with God. It is only this profession of faith that can save us! It is only this profession of faith that can lead us to grasp the central message of this period which is an invitation to the re-evaluation of the things we have made central in our personal and communal lives. This situation has sent everyone back to what really counts; to some of the thing we took for granted – life, family, food, safety, health, even things like healthy air and water, etc. May it open our eyes also to see the indispensability of God in the daily management of the affairs of the world and of our personal lives. We are gradually seeing how everything we centralised is systematically and sequentially failing us. It is an opportunity to recognise that “we were darkness once, but now we are light in the Lord; be like children of the light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth” (Eph 5:8-14).
As we keep our knees bended in prayers, we remember and pray for all those infected already, those risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones in taking care of the sick, the families affected in varying degrees by this global epidemic and all those who have died. May God listen favourably to our prayers and make haste to help us for “He is our Shepherd and there is nothing we shall want”; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE