Sunday Assembly Homily
Fourth Sunday of Lent 2020
First Streaming of Sunday Assembly Liturgy
In Time of Coronavirus Pandemic
“Sight & Light”
Oh My! What an historic and unprecedented time right now! Universities closed, schools closed, businesses closed, churches closed, government services closed sporting events closed, the stock market diving, countries closed—-who would have thought that a month ago that we would be experiencing such social and cultural upheaval? The Coronavirus Pandemic and social distancing have turned our lives upside—-and as we gather for Prayer—thru this gift of technology and streaming—it is important for us to honor what is in our hearts and minds and souls regarding the turmoil of the past few weeks.
So, before we reflect together upon the scripture—a few personal questions might be of support for us. I wonder how you are doing with all of the change brought on by the Pandemic? I wonder what your personal needs are? I wonder what your special stresses are? I wonder how your family is doing…..your children, your grandchildren, your parents? I invite all of us to intentionally lift up all of our concerns and open our hearts to our Compassionate God—seeking Wisdom and Strength to face these challenging times—-never alone but always together.
Whenever I prepare to break open God’s Word for a Sunday reflection try to always ask this question: What Wisdom is there for us in God’s Word today? What practical Wisdom can we glean from our Sunday Scriptures? And today, two words seems to come out of my reflections upon the Word: SIGHT AND LIGHT. So, let’s take a look at these two ideas today and see what Wisdom may be ours.
The Gospel story of the Man Born Blind is one of the great healing stories in all of the New Testament. The man who is healed begins to see—–not only physically—but also on a deeper level. He begins to believe. He is also a man of courage and clever humor in standing up to the Jewish Community Leaders.
The meaning of this story is that—as the Light of the World—Jesus brings people out of darkness into light and gives sight to the Blind of Heart. He brings enlightenment to all spiritual seekers. I don’t know about you, but sometimes in my everyday life, I feel so blind, and I hunger for deeper sight. Sometimes I just seem to miss the deeper meaning of things because I am too busy, or distracted or angry or upset or concerned……I become blind to the inner depth of a situation. And let’s face it, we’re all blind at times. We all struggle with that interior blindness—that seems to be part of the human condition—being blind—being in the dark—-unable to find our way. The solution is to regain our Sight—to see again—-over and over—–and to have our eyes opened by coming into the Light. For us Christians, JESUS IS THAT LIGHT. And Jesus teaches us that Love is the key to the Light. And that Love grasps the Mystery of living. And that, as a lesser known theologian of the Middle Ages, Hugo of St. Victor teaches is that “LOVE IS THE EYE—-I love this phrase—-LOVE IS THE EYE that lets the Light in! So, this is my first reflection on the idea of Sight.
My second reflection is about the meaning of Light. In Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, our second reading, Paul has that beautiful phrase: “Live as Children of the Light.” What does that mean for us today, especially in this time of Pandemic?
As I thought about this for a while, a number of practical attributes of being Children of the Light came to mind. It seems to me that:
- Children of the Light come to know the Wisdom
and Heart of Jesus, thru Silence, Meditation and Prayer. They hunger to be connect to the Spirit of
- Children of the Light refuse to let Fear control their lives. We all live in fear at times—it is part of being human—but Children of the Light do what they can to not let Fear control. In times of Crisis, like now, Children of Light display quiet and caring acts of Courage and Emotional Balance.
- Children of the Light remember that—-as James Finley—the excellent spiritual writer says: “God protects us from nothing, but sustains us in everything.” God will sustain us thru these challenging days.
- Children of the Light look for deeper Wisdom and opportunities for Goodness in the midst of crisis. What Wisdom is there for me—-for you—-for us—in all of the pandemic social upheaval and struggle right? For Children of the Light, there is always Wisdom to be found, especially in crisis. When one door closes, another opens.
- Children of the Light always practice simple and humble acts of Compassion in crisis times. It seems to me that we can practice “Social Distancing” as an act of loving care for others……and laugh about its social awkwardness together. I’m reminded here of the powerful wisdom saying of the 4th century theologian, Origen, who wrote in one of his sermons long ago: “Be gentle with everyone, for everyone carries a heavy burden.” Children of the Light develop solidarity with the isolated and the needy during crisis times.
- Children of the Light remember that—as present day theologian, Daniel Horan OSF, wrote recently in an article entitled “The Communion of Saints,”——”We are all members of the Communion of Saints—that ancient doctrine of solidarity. We are not alone. We are bound together by the Holy Spirit as the Body of Christ.” And Nothing—Nothing—Nothing can every separate us from the Love of God, found in Christ Jesus, thru the Holy Spirit!
I wonder what you think it might mean for you to be a Child of the Light today, right now? I’m sure there are many more attributes that I have not listed.
I close with some words of Wisdom and Light for us from a great woman of Western Christianity—a great woman of Light—Teresa of Avila—-the 16th century Carmelite religious from Spain who lived during the Spanish Inquisition—who was often under great suspicion and in threat of being imprisoned—she wrote these words in her prayer book in a time of deep stress:
“Let Nothing disturb you.
Let Nothing frighten you.
All things are passing away.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks Nothing.
God alone suffices.”
May we be Children of the Light at this challenging time in our history.
I wish you God’s Peace.