From the fourth Sunday of Lent until the end of the Lenten season, the Gospel readings for every day are from the Gospel of John. The fourth Gospel has several great themes that are unique to it, including that of light and darkness, which is set forth in the prologue (Jn 1:1-18). “What came to be through him was life,” the apostle John wrote, “and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn 1:3b-5). This contrast is certainly evident in the Gospel reading for the fourth Sunday of Lent: the account of the man born blind. The man, who was blind from birth, knows very little until he encounters the healing Savior and is cured of both physical and spiritual blindness. The Pharisees, who supposedly know everything of importance, show themselves to be blind and unwilling to see the light — even though they speak directly to Jesus Christ, the true light! “This blind man,” commented St. Augustine on this story, “is the human race.”
Every one of us is born into spiritual blindness — recipients of the original sin and the severed communion between God and man going back to Adam. Each of us, like the blind man, is unable to heal ourselves; desiring to see, we stumble about in darkness and misery. We are in need of Christ and his light, which comes through his word and the sacrament of baptism. Lent is a good time to offer thanks for the gift of spiritual sight, and to go to confession to confess any sins, mortal or venial, that have either destroyed or damaged the life of grace.
The other Gospel readings for this week depict the growing animosity of many toward Jesus. He is questioned and persecuted; some begin to actively plot to arrest and ultimately kill him. The cross looms.
“Heavenly King, Comforter, Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere present and fill all things; Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life, come and dwell within us, cleanse us of all stain, and save our souls, O Gracious Lord. Amen.”
— “Heavenly King,” Byzantine Prayer
Themes: Light, Darkness, Blindness, Sight, Signs, Life, Death, Healing, Judgment, Resurrection