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Reflection for Laetare Sunday

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Jeannine Neavitt, OSB | March 18, 2023

As we proceed on our Lenten journey, Christ invites us to see with new light and new vision the heart of one another and of all creation.  The gift of some individuals and of some creation may be more visible than others, but that gift is there, blessed and loved by our loving God.

Three themes we are given to reflect on this Laetare Sunday:  Out heart, Our light and our vision.  What great gifts each of us receives today, if receptive: the very essentials of living life in the image of Christ. They lead me to assess my heart, my light and, hopefully, my ever-expanding vision.

Is my sight open to see more clearly how it is we truly come to see more like Christ sees?   What does my sight reveal to me at my first glimpse of a situation or of an individual?  What can happen to that glimpse when my heart is involved in what I do and speak?

As we heard in the first reading, God has chosen one of Samuel’s many sons to be king.  God tells Samuel to fill his horn with oil and be on his way, taking his sons to Jesse.  The youngest son stayed home to tend the sheep.  God saw the heart of that youngest son and told Samuel to go back and bring him, as he was the chosen one.  It was his heart that mattered.

In our second reading, we hear, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”  Both readings – and the verse before the Gospel, “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life” – lead us to the Gospel message: Jesus gives sight to a man blind from birth.

Three important messages for each of us:  How pure are the motives of my heart?  Do I see life through the light of Christ or just my own learned concerns, prejudices, lack of vision, and my inadequacies?  Does my vision, my view of life, reflect the vision God wants to give me?

The gifts we are offered this Laetare Sunday are: our heart our light and our vision.
How are these three qualities lived out in the way we treat and respond to others?

If I was to be king, what kind of kingdom would I want to surround me?  Would my actions and encouragement of others reflect that vision God wants to give me?  Do I encourage the gifts of others, or do I somehow respond to others to make them feel inadequate?  Does that make me feel superior in some way?

I remember reading once about an elementary school teacher using an illustration to deal with how our words and actions can affect others. I also saw the same illustration from a woman athletic coach to her team.

Perhaps, this day, the elementary teacher saw her students responding negatively toward other children, saying hurtful things.  She held up a large new piece of paper.  “This is how we start out life,” she said, “when we say something hurtful or negative about someone, this is what happens.” She crumbled a corner of the paper. She continued to add more crumples to the sheet, as examples of what happens with each unkind or hurtful thing we say about that person.

When the paper was fully crumpled, she laid it on a table and smoothed it out the best she was able. Then, she  held it up.  As the children gazed wrinkled paper, she said, “Even when we apologize or try to do something to make amends for our hurtful words or actions, the paper will never be the as it was before.  Too late!  That person now carries those hurtful words with them and it affects how they see themselves and, maybe, how they, in turn, behave toward others.”

Does my heart reflect the light through which I see Christ’s vision of his creation, or is it tainted by some underlying inadequacy in me? 

What a powerful image to ponder!  Do I, or can I, truly live life in gratitude for all I have been given?  How blind am I to the gifts God gave me?

We know everything and everyone that God created is good and pure, like that sheet of paper before the crumpling began.  Let us reflect: how is my heart, how does Christ’s light and clarity shine on what I see?  How open and inclusive does my sight reflect God’s vision?

How can I truly be a gift to others as my sight and heart expands in God’s call to love, as I continue my journey this Lent?  Will I ever really get there?  No, probably not, but let us pray, work, have fun and help each other to keep God’s heart, Christ’s light, and God’s vision before us along the way. 

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