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Bishop Robert Barron Lenten Reflections

Tuesday March 31, 2020

FIFTH WEEK OF LENT

JOHN 8:21-30

Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus predicts his death on the cross.

We are meant to see on that cross not simply a violent display, but rather our own ugliness. What brought Jesus to the cross? Stupidity, anger, mistrust, institutional injustice, betrayal of a friend, denial, unspeakable cruelty, scapegoating, fear, etc. In other words, all of our dysfunction is revealed on that cross.

So far so awful. But we can’t stop telling the story at this point. Dante and every other spiritual master know that the only way up is down. When we live in convenient darkness, unaware of our sins, we will never make spiritual progress. So we need the light, however painful it is—then we can begin to rise.

On the cross of Jesus, we meet our own sin. But we also meet the divine mercy that has taken that sin upon himself in order to swallow it up. We have found, in that cross, the way up. We want to hold up this thing that was considered too horrible to look at. We want to embrace and kiss the very source of our pain.

Reflect: What do you do to move out of the “convenient darkness” and shed the light of Christ on your own attitudes and behaviors?


Sunday, March 22, 2020

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

JOHN 9:1-41

Friends, today in the strange and strikingly beautiful account of the healing of the man born blind in John’s Gospel, we find an iconic representation of Christianity as a way of seeing. Jesus spits on the ground and makes a mud paste, which he then rubs onto the man’s eyes. When the man washes his eyes in the pool of Siloam as Jesus had instructed him, his sight is restored.

The crowds are amazed, but the Pharisees—consternated and skeptical—accuse him of being naïve and the one who healed him of being a sinner.
With disarming simplicity the visionary responds: “If he is a sinner, I do not know. One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”

This is precisely what all Christians say when they have encountered the light of Christ. It was St. Augustine who saw in the making of the mud paste a metaphor for the Incarnation: the divine power mixing with the earth, resulting in the formation of a healing balm. When this salve of God made flesh is rubbed onto our eyes blinded by sin, we come again to see.

Reflect: How is the Christian way of seeing different from the culture’s way of seeing?

Saint Katharine Drexel