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Sunday:       Fourth Sunday of Lent: Christian Initiation, Second Scrutiny
Date:         March 18, 2012
Year:         B
The readings: [1 Sam. 16:1, 6-7, 10-13; Ephes. 5:8-14; Jn. 9:1-41]
The message:  The grace of God is manifested.
Prepared by:  Catholic Doors Ministry
Total words:  1289

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** The readings follow the sermon.

My brothers and sisters, the faithful members of the parish prayerfully long for the day when you as candidates for the Sacrament of Baptism shall be reborn into the life of the Kingdom of God. Through your membership in the R.C.I.A., we are reminded of the grace of God that is continuously manifested in each and everyone of us. Through your spiritual growth, we perceive the infinite grace of God that continues to manifest itself in creation, in the world and in the Holy Catholic Church.

Today's readings speak of the manifestation of the grace of God. During the First Reading, [1 Sam. 16:1, 6-7, 10-13] we heard of the circumstances when God sent Samuel to anoint as king one of the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem. The one that God called to serve Him as king was not the one that Samuel believed would be called. For the Lord does not see as mortals see. Mortals look at the outward appearance of the person. But the Lord looks at the heart.

The anointing of king David is symbolic to the Sacrament of Baptism. As we have heard during the First Reading, the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from the day that he was anointed. To be anointed means to have been called and to have answered the calling. It means to become a new creation in Jesus. It means to receive the indwelling gift of the Holy Spirit who shall move upon those who give their lives in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Church that He has instituted on earth.

Through the aforementioned, we see the manifestation of the grace of God at work,

1) in the calling of king David,
2) in his answering of the calling,
3) in his anointing through Samuel, an instrument of God,
4) in the new birth that results in a new creation,
5) in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit,
6) and in the living faith of the new candidate who shines forth to bear spiritual fruits throughout his life.

For the grace of God to continue to manifest itself through us, we must always embrace a spiritual heart. Through a spiritual disposition, we strive to find out what is pleasing to the Lord so we can live as children of the light.

Once, we lived in the darkness as many still do. We were lost souls. We had no living hope of salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. But now, through the grace of God that is manifested in the Lord Jesus, we are as lights in the world. As lights, we are called to shine by doing what is good, right, and true, so that we may bear the fruit of the light. Nobody lights up a candle and places it under a bushel to hide its light. Nor does the Lord Jesus transform us into lights in the world so we may go and hide in a closet. We are called to publicly serve the Lord Jesus in full submission and obedience.

We, the faithful of this parish, were once sleepers. By the grace of God who had mercy on our poor souls, we were called to awaken. And we responded to the Lord's call. Soon, others will join us through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism. They too were once sleepers who have been awakened. Before long, with our new members of the Body of Christ, we will all be rejoicing together. Through our increased number, our light shall increase in the world, the Church becoming more visible to those who still need to be brought to the light of Christ.

Today's Gospel Reading reported the event surrounding the man who was cured from the blindness that he had since childbirth. Thinking worldly, some of the disciples were ready to blame someone for the cause of this blindness. They asked Jesus, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned: he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him."

The man was born blind so that the grace of God may be manifested through him. Through this man, the glory of God was seen by all who knew him prior to being healed. Through this miracle, the faith of many was strengthened. This is the power behind the manifestation of the grace of God.

We too sometimes hear of misfortune that struck someone, and as some of the disciples of Jesus believed, thinking worldly, we immediately jump to a conclusion. Why is someone sick? Why is another one a handicap? Why has someone we know lost his job? Thinking worldly, we immediately judge and draw a conclusion. But is that right?

Should we not be embracing a spiritual heart and ask ourselves, "How is the grace of God being manifested through these events?"

You know, I once heard that if there were no poor people in the world, we would be unable to give to the poor! Think of this! Everytime you give to a poor person, the grace of God is being manifested in you and through you. Now, take away the poor... and what happens? God's grace can no longer be manifested in you and through you under these circumstances.

So why does God allow someone to be sick, handicapped or unemployed? Maybe because He wants His infinite grace to shine in you and through you. Maybe He is waiting for you to help care for the children of the mother or father who is ill. Maybe He is waiting for you to help and support the parents of a handicap child. Or even, maybe He expects you to share your excess wealth by providing food, clothing, or a birthday present to the family who's bread winner is presently unemployed.

As lights in the world, you are called to do these things. If we stop visiting the sick in the hospital, the seniors in the lodges, the prisoners who have been given up by the world, who shall be their lights? Do we then have the right to call ourselves Christians if we close our eyes to the needs of those around us? No, we do not have the right to do so and nor can we do so! As new creations who have been born again in Christ, our hearts tell us to show love towards others as Christ has shown love towards us by dying in our place on the Holy Cross.

God wants His grace to be manifested through us. God calls everyone to be touched by His undeserved free grace. He calls us to repent of our sins and to confess them. He calls us to behave as new creations that enjoy the indwelling Divine presence of the Holy Spirit. And He calls us to persevere in our living faith in Christ... all this so His grace may be manifested through us.

My brothers and sisters, as we continue with the celebration of the Holy Mass, let us reflect on how the grace of God is being manifested in us through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the great Feast of the Lord Jesus. Let us impatiently wait with great excitement for the day when our new brothers and sisters will be able to share with us in the joy of our living hope in Christ so that the grace of the Lord may abundantly flourish through them as it flourishes through us.

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The readings...

[The readings were taken from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (C) 1989 Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Church of Christ in the United States of America.]

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First Reading...

"The Lord said to Samuel, 'Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.'

When the sons of Jesse came, Samuel looked on Eliab and thought, 'Surely the Lord's anointed is now before the Lord.' But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.'

Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, 'The Lord has not chosen any of these.' Samuel said to Jesse, 'Are all our sons here?' And he said, 'There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.' And Samuel said to Jesse, 'Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.' Jesse sent and brought David in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, 'Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.'

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the lord came mightily upon David from that day forward." [1 Sam. 16:1, 6-7, 10-3]

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Second Reading...

"Brothers and sisters: Once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light - for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.

Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, 'Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'"[Eph. 5:8-14]

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Gospel Reading...

"As Jesus walked along, 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 this man nor his parents sinned: he was born blind so that God's works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world,' When he had said this, He spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man's eyes, saying to him, 'Go, wash in the pool of Siloam' (which means Sent).

Then the man who was blind went and washed, and came back able to see. The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, 'Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?' Some were saying, 'It is he.' Others were saying, 'No, but it is someone like him.' He kept saying, 'I am the man.' But they kept asking him, 'Then how were your eyes opened?' he answered, 'The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' Then I went and washed and received my sight.' They said to him, 'Where is he?' He said, 'I do not know.'

They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, 'He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.' Some of the Pharisees said, 'This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath,' But others said, 'How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?' And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, 'What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.' He said, 'He is a prophet.'

They did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, 'Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?' his parents answered, 'We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.' His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, who had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, 'He is of age; ask him.'

So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, 'Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.' He answered, 'I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that thought I was blind, now I see.' They said to him, 'What did he do to you? how did he open your eyes?' He answered them, 'I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?' Then they reviled him, saying 'You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.'

The man answered, 'Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes form, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. if this man were not from God, he could do nothing.'

They answered him, 'You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?' And they drove him out.

Jesus heard that they had driver him out, and when he found him, he said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' he answered, 'And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.' Jesus said to him, 'You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he,' He said, 'Lord, I believe.' And he worshipped him.

Jesus said, 'I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.' Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, 'Surely we are not blind, are we?' Jesus said to them, 'If you were blind, you would have no sin. But now that you say, 'We see,' your sins remains.'" [Jn. 9:1-41]

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