OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Fourth Sunday of Lent (Year A)

When we get to Easter, there are two symbols of the resurrection that we use in Church: fire and light (the Easter Candle) and water (the Font). Last week we reflected on water, and this week there are passages all about light – true light, that defeats the blindness of sin. Again, this would have been offered to those preparing for Baptism, but speaks to all of us who have been baptised, inviting us to be renewed in the light of Christ at Easter. Remember that one of the oldest titles of the newly baptised was “neophyte”, which means “newly enlightened”. There is a subtle link between the readings on this Sunday: in the first reading, David is anointed, and the Spirit of the Lord seizes on him. This anointing lights him along the right path - ‘no evil would I fear’ as the Psalm says. Then Paul tells us more about this light: it is Christ shining on us, calling us to live as children of light. All this is summed up in the Gospel, the marvellous story of the healing (by being ‘anointed’ with spittle) of the man born blind. Jesus is the light of the world

Notes for Readers

First Reading: 1 Samuel 16: 1, 6-7, 10-13.
 
Again this is a story from the Old Testament, and reading it should not pose too many problems – just be careful to ask yourself: “Why are we reading this today?” The answer is a bit subtle: it is about God’s choice of an individual, which leads, through ritual, to that person becoming God’ servant: this is exactly what happens in baptism – God calls us before we decide to “take the plunge”. Highlight the references to ‘oil’ and ‘anointing’ - these will be taken up by the Psalm. Especially emphasise the lines about seeing: ‘man looks at appearances, but God looks at the heart’ - this will lead people to the Gospel. But above all tell the story, and allow people to draw their own conclusions from this story, well-told, of the Lord choosing his servant.
 
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14.
 
In contrast with last week, this letter is much easier - not that that is an excuse not to prepare! In proclaiming this reading it is important to remember that the words are real and active today: in other words, when you proclaim ‘You were darkness once...’, that ‘you’ is the congregation sitting before you. These words are Paul’s words to them here and now. Paul is pleading with the people of Ephesus - so allow him to plead with you and your congregation. Give his wonderful words their full power. The last three lines are probably words from an early hymn, which the Christians would have sung - they are poetry, and a change in the reading style is demanded: you might stress it like this: “Wake up from your SLEEP, RISE from the DEAD, and CHRIST will SHINE on YOU.” Throughout the reading use the contrasts that Paul gives you - darkness and light. When you speak about darkness, allow the voice to fall somewhat, but let it rise again when talking about the light.

From the Catechism

Christ the light of the nations
CCC 280, 529, 748, 1165, 2466, 2715

Jesus is the Son of David
CCC 439, 496, 559, 2616

Baptism is illumination
CCC 1216

Christians are to be light of the world
CCC 782, 1243, 2105

CCC 1216
"This bath is called enlightenment, because those who receive this [catechetical] instruction are enlightened in their understanding . . . ." Having received in Baptism the Word, "the true light that enlightens every man," the person baptized has been "enlightened," he becomes a "son of light," indeed, he becomes "light" himself:
Baptism is God's most beautiful and magnificent gift. . . .We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God's Lordship.

Gospel Wordsearch