Sunday, March 19, 2023

Easter 2023 - Laetare

Today marks the fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday, also known as Mothering Sunday, Refreshment Sunday, mid-Lent Sunday, and Rose Sunday.  It's primarily named for the first line of the Introit read today. Isaiah 66:10 "Rejoice ye with Jerusalem; and be ye glad for her, all ye that delight in her: exult and sing for joy with her, all ye that in sadness mourn for her; that ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations."  

Laetare Jerusalem et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam; gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis, ut exsultetis et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.

The theme of this Sunday is rejoicing, as Laetare means rejoice.  It's a bit of a breather in the middle of lent, as we look forward to the hope of Easter.  In the readings, we see manifestations of the hope that we have.  The Old Testament reading from 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a, focuses on the anointing of David as king.  A physical culmination of the hope of Israel at the time, the annointing of the good earthly king, one they have been continuing to look for.  

The Gospel reading focuses on John 9, with the story of the man blind from birth, the restoration of his sight, and the investigation by the Pharisees.   The story begins with a question that has implications for our larger study on suffering.  The disciples ask Jesus what caused the man's blindness, his sin or his parents.  Jesus response tells us a lot.  "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

This response runs contrary to our primary beliefs about suffering, that they are punishments. Jesus is clearly saying that is not always the case.  But the beauty is that the suffering can still be used by God for something wonderful.

After Jesus puts mud on his eyes and instructs him to wash in the pool of Siloam, a simple task, but still with great impact.  The man went and washed, and came home seeing.  Which stirs up the community greatly.  His neighbors become very inquisitive.  They bring him before the Pharisees, who put him through a rigorous cross examination, even calling in his parents to confirm his prior blindness.

Through the entirety of the cross examination, one response from the man rings out for me.  The Pharisees  are upset with Jesus because the healing took place on a Sabbath, so of course, Jesus could not be of God. The Pharisees were men of God and followed all the rules.  How could they tolerate a man who cut through all the rules to care for the people?  They become more and more irate with the man's story, so they ask him point blank, "Give glory to God by telling the truth.  We know this man (Jesus ) is a sinner."

The man's response is all the defense of the gospel that we ever need.  It is the summary of our hope in Jesus.  The very essence of our testimony.

"Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know.  One thing I do know.  I was blind, but now I see!"

That's all we need; the beauty of telling what He has done for us.  That's our hope.  That's our joy.

May we now go out like the man and spread it.

No comments:

Post a Comment