Here are the readings, Gospel and Homily from an evening Mass celebrated by Father Richard today - Laetare Sunday
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“Rejoice” is the first word of today’s Mass. The Introit begins: “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.” Listening to this, you might be saying: “Father, are you having a laugh?!” Rejoicing is perhaps the last thing that springs to mind at the moment as we worry about the coming weeks. But it’s precisely this sense of Christian joy that will sustain us in these testing times.
In our second reading, St Paul speaks of darkness and light. We do have to acknowledge the darkness we experience at the moment: uncertainty, loneliness, concern for our vulnerable family and friends, financial worries. We particularly have to look out for our neighbour’s mental health as well as their physical health at this time. St Paul reminds us, though, that “we must be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.”
“Living as children of the light” – that’s what we’re called to do amid the darkness. The light that shines on us, of course, is the light that radiates from the Person of Jesus Christ who tells us in the Gospel: “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” We know that Jesus is in our midst today and that his light of hope shines out. We know he is acting in the world and bringing people his healing touch.
Trusting in him, we can say together with the Psalmist: “The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” We hear further: “Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.” Yes, the Lord offers us the comfort and healing of his saving waters.
By his saving action, Jesus sends the blind man in the Gospel to the Pool of Siloam. By bathing in this water, the beggar is healed of his physical blindness. But we discover he heals the man of his spiritual blindness too. Jesus opens up that man’s soul so that he’s able to receive the gift of faith in Christ. Although the beggar doesn’t at first know fully who his healer is, he testifies to Jesus in front of the Pharisees. Jesus then rewards his openness to faith by revealing that he is the Christ - Son of Man. The man who once walked in darkness has been led by Christ into the “radiance of faith”, as the Preface for this Mass says.
Today, too, Jesus the Divine Physician heals those whom he chooses of their physical illnesses by His Divine Will. As well as healing the body, Jesus also heals and strengthens our souls too. If we stay close to Him in these challenging times, he will lift us out of any darkness we experience into His marvellous light that will bring us joy.
Being unable to come to Sunday Mass and receive the Lord in the Eucharist will be heart-breaking for you - I know. It must be very difficult to have faithfully come to Sunday Mass all your life and then all of a sudden not be able to.
These times, then, call for us to plunge ever deeper into the waters of our Catholic faith. We need to constantly go back to our Baptism when we were washed clean in water and the Holy Spirit, when we made our baptismal promises to believe in God, the Holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the Forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. We need to plunge ever deeper into our spiritual life, to dedicate ourselves more and more at home to quality time with the Lord in contemplation and meditation on the Scriptures.
If we grow in faith and love of the Lord in these difficult days, then he will continue to heal us and bring us deep joy. In the words of Saint Paul: “Rejoice in the Lord always; I say it again, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).