We are on Fourth Sunday in Lent. Traditionally this Sunday is known as “Laetare Sunday,” from the Latin word for “Rejoice!” It sets a tone of joyful anticipation of the Easter mystery. The theme of the reading is new life and spiritual sight.
The fourth Sunday of Lent gives us a review of salvation history. The first reading is a historical moment of salvation history. Israelites were governed by Judges. Israelites looked at the surrounding kingdoms and asked God for a King of Israel. Saul was their first king, but he offended God, and the kingship was taken from him. The Lord asked Samuel, the last Judge in Israel, to go to Bethlehem to anoint Jesse’s son the next king. Samuel followed God’s command and anointed David and the Holy Spirit came upon him. This anointing is a type of baptism. We read in the book of Isaiah 1:12 “A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots, a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him.”
When Samuel met Jesse, Eliab was there and God told Samuel not to judge the appearance. Jesse’ presented seven of his children; God didn’t choose any of them. God chose the unexpected one, David. In the eyes of Jesse, he was a young and just shepherd. Samuel tried to make a decision based on appearance, but God had a different plan. God said to Samuel, “God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The LORD looks into the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).” We read in the Book of Psalms 78:70&71, “He chose David his servant, took him from the sheepfolds. From tending sheeps God brought him, to shepherd Jacob, his people, Israel, his heritage. He shepherded them with a pure heart; with skilled hands he guided them.” God anointed David to shepherd the Israelites. Though he had moral flaws, David was generally willing to do the will of God and being faithful to God’s covenant. His Royal line would lead directly to the Incarnation of the Son of God, Messiah.
The Gospel reading is also a symbolic catechesis on baptism. Isaiah prophesied and Jews believed that when Jesus comes he will heal the blind and other diseases. We read in Isaiah 42:7, “To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.”
Jews believed that wherever there is suffering there is sin. So the disciples brought up this question to Jesus’ attention. Jesus tells them that it is a providential plan of God. Jesus gave the physical sight to the man who was blind; it is a sign that Jesus gives spiritual sight to see the world in the light of heaven. Jesus says, “I am light of the world.” Jesus is the source of truth, faith, and life. The Man who received the sight received the light of faith.
Jesus applied the clay mixed with saliva on man’s eyes and asked him to go and wash in the 'Pool of Siloam.’ In the second book of Kings (5:1014) Elisha commanded Naaman the Syrian to “go and wash '' in the Jordan river to be restored to health. The pool of Siloam was in the southern district of ancient Jerusalem to serve as a water supply for the city. Siloam means sent. Here Jesus is the source of living water. This miracle anticipates the administration of baptism.
Jews said that it is unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of a person who was born blind. When they threw him out, Jesus came and asked him whether he believed in the Son of Man. He made the profession of faith.
This Gospel passage is associated with baptism. Just as the blind man went down into the waters of Siloam and came up whole, so also believers who are immersed in the waters of Baptism come up spiritually whole, totally healed of the spiritual blindness with which all of us are born. Let us renew our own baptism with our Candidate who is preparing for the Easter Vigil.