Francis of Assisi
556 South Jersey Street;
Denver, CO 80224
National Catholic Church (PNCC)
St. Francis of Assisi Polish National Catholic Church (PNCC) @2008
In St. Paul's day Ephesus was a flourishing port city. Paul in his third missionary journey visited Ephesus and stayed there for almost three years. He wrote this letter to the Ephesians while he was a prisoner in Rome. In it he stresses the doctrine of the Church as the mystical body of Christ: all men, Jews and Gentiles, become members of Christ's body of which he’s the head. He also uses the metaphor of marriage to describe this relationship: Christ is the Bridegroom, the Church his Bride.
The majority of the new Christians of Ephesus were converts from paganism. St Paul tells them, “you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. ‘Live as children of light…” Paul’s words to the Ephesians are applicable to every one of us, especially during this season of Lent. We too have the great blessing of the light of the Christian faith. We, too, have died with Christ and were reborn in our baptism and have been set on the road to eternal life. We, too, know "all that is good and right and true:' and we know that if we live according to this knowledge, we’ll be "pleasing to God" and we will be moving steadily toward the destination he has prepared for us.
That destination is heaven, a place of everlasting happiness which God has planned for us before time began and which is the only place that will satisfy all the desires of the human heart.
The purpose of today's lesson is to awaken us from the sleep of laziness and forgetfulness of our real purpose in life.
But the sad fact is, apart from the few truly devoted Christians who never forget what their Christian faith means to them, the vast majority of us are very apt to let the passing pleasures and interests of this worldly life take hold on us
and blot out ninety-nine per cent of the Christian light which should illuminate all our daily actions. Many of us today are asleep. We’re asleep and need this call to awaken us to a sense of our obligations as Christians. This doesn’t mean we must change our occupation or cut ourselves off from all our relatives and friends, but what it does mean is we must change our outlook on life and eternity. We must still carry out our daily, worldly tasks whatever they are. But we must do them with the Christian motive of pleasing God.
The light which Christ has brought to us shows us the true meaning of life. If any of us have been sleeping‑ wasting the valuable time God is giving us‑ now is the time to wake up to the reality of life. There’s still time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We don’t know how much time is left, but we do know, if we use our time as St Paul tells us today,
if we "walk as children of light," living our Christian life to the fullest, we can still earn the resurrection from the dead and receive eternal light from Christ.
Much the same as the blind man did in today’s Gospel. This miracle, worked by Jesus in Jerusalem, gives to a blind beggar not only his bodily light, his eyesight,
but also gives him the light of faith. We also see the stubborn pride of the Pharisees which prevented them, not only from seeing in the humble "son of man" the long‑expected Messiah,
but made them incapable of seeing a miracle which was evident to everybody else. The disciples' question of who sinned, arose from the common conviction among the Jews that all physical defects and all pain were a punishment for sin. Jesus tells them this isn’t so. Neither he nor his parents sinned, but his physical defect gave Jesus an opportunity to show that he was from God.
St. John was an eyewitness of this story. He was one of Jesus' first disciples and was with him in Jerusalem when this incident took place. It’s evident from the minute details he’s able to give when writing his gospel, sixty years later, that the behavior of the Pharisees made a deep impression on John’s young mind. The Pharisees were opposed to Jesus from the very beginning of his public life. Jesus mixed with publicans and sinners; he preached mercy and forgiveness. Many of the common people all over the country and in Jerusalem were becoming his disciples, and this meant that the Pharisees were losing followers and of maybe greater importance to them, they were losing Temple revenue. Their personal pride was being hurt and their privileges being weakened.
We can clearly see in today's story the Pharisees’ pride and prejudice. They at first refuse to admit a miracle occurred. When the parents convince them that the cured man is their son who was born blind, they attribute the miracle to a sinner who is in league with Satan. The cured man shows them this is impossible. But they remain convinced that the worker of this miracle is not from God, not the Messiah, but an impostor and they excommunicate the man. While the Pharisees have long since disappeared from history, there’re thousands still among us who, blinded by the same pride and prejudice, refuse to see the truths of God's revelation. They refuse to admit that God exists or that Christ existed. In their pride they claim to be absolute masters of their own fate, and they seem to be or pretend to be content that their fate will end in the death of the body. They’re also not content to keep their irrational unbelief to themselves, but want others to join them. They seem to believe that getting others to believe as they do validates their belief. They’re always ready to propagate their errors and to accuse believers of childish foolishness. And many accept their accusations; we’re thankful to God and to Jesus Christ that we’ve been given the light of faith.
Our own reason tells us the marvelous gifts we have aren’t from ourselves but were given us by a loving God who has shared his own goodness with all creatures. God's revelation through Christ informs us that there is a future life awaiting us. A future life where our spiritual faculties, and our transformed bodies, will be fully and fittingly satisfied. Christ, "who is the light of the world," to whom the Pharisees and their modern followers shut their eyes,
is our light and our delight. Through the gift of faith, he’s given us a spiritual eyesight, which, while it can’t dispel all the shadows and discomforts of this life, opens to us a glorious unending future where our God‑given gifts will at last find their true purpose, their true satisfaction.
We pray God shed some of this light on those who in their folly ignore and deny him, and that he never let us falter in our faith and in our fidelity to the baptismal promises which we made to him when, through his grace and generosity, we became his chosen children of light.
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March 26th - 4th Sunday of Lent- A 2017