​​St. Catherine of Alexandria Catholic Church

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Sixth Sunday of Pascha

Sunday of the Man Born Blind

Readings at the Liturgy: 1) Acts 16:16-34. 2) Romans 10:9-17. 3) John 9:1-38


My dear parishioners and friends,

Today’s readings have to do with professing the faith, not being embarrassed that we are believers, but glad to be Christians. Witnessing to our faith is getting harder to do in Canadian society in which people who profess themselves Christian are often considered strange or worse. Sometimes believing people don’t recogn ize this, but try wearing a neck cross or a lapel cross in public and see the reactions you get. Or ask yourself why you who claim to be a Christian don’t wear a neck cross?.

In today’s first reading, from Acts, Paul and Silas were preaching in the city of Philppi, and for that they were imprisoned and beaten by the Roman authorities. A miracle took place in jail enabling them to escape. The jailer saw and was so moved in his heart that he begged Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you and all your household!” They did, were baptized, and rejoiced at having believed. From jailer to saint. God does wonders!  The second reading, from the letter to the Romans, begins with the bold assertion, “If you confess with your mouth that JESUS IS LORD and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

And today’s Gospel, from John, relates the story of how Jesus gave sight to a man born blind, the incident from which this Sunday gets its name. Jesus rubs clay on the man’s eyes, then tells him to wash in the nearby pool of Siloam (an allusion to the water of baptism). The man does so and comes back healed. Then follows a whole series of questions by neighbours and the authorities as to who did the healing. Each time the man boldly answers, “The man called Jesus!” Afterwards Jesus finds him and asks, “Do you believe in the Son of Man, who is speaking with you?” The man replies, “I do believe, Lord,” and he bowed in wor-ship. In the baptism service the priest asks this question of those being baptized and they reply as the man born blind did, “I do believe!”

We must be strong in our faith, especially when things don’t go as we want them to. God says in sacred Scripture, “If I shut up the heaven and no rain falls, and if I command the locust to devour the trees, and if I send pestilence upon My people, then — if My people who are called by My Name shall be ashamed and pray, and shall seek My Face and turn from their evil ways — I too will hear from heaven, and will be merciful toward their sins and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14). God is not some vengeful policeman waiting to arrest and punish, but He is God after all and, like any good parent, has the right to be respected and heard. And as we parents — not to be mean or arbitrary, but concerned for our children’s welfare — have told our now-and-then wayward children: “There are consequences to our actions.” In line with that, the following reflection, by an unknown author, is making its way on the internet:

            In three short months, just as He did with the plagues of Egypt,
            God has taken away everything we think we should worship.
            He said, “You want to worship athletes, I’ll shut down the stadiums.
            You want to worship musicians, I’ll shut down the civic centers.
            You want to worship actors, I’ll shut down the theaters.
            You want to worship money, I’ll shut down the economy and crash the stock market.
            You want to worship your physical appearance, I’ll shut down the gyms.
            You want to worship your intellect, I’ll shut down the schools.
            You want to trust in your friends and not in Me,
            I’ll see that you can’t meet with them physically.
            You don’t want to seek My Face and worship Me,
            I’ll make it so you can’t even go to church.”

Considering what we’re going through now, there’s much that rings true in that. If you want, make a copy of the reflection and share it with others. But we should know that the reflection is not complete without the second half of the above scriptural quote from 2 Chronicles: “If My people shall be ashamed, and pray, and seek My Face, and turn around, then... then I will hear, show mercy and heal.” Yes, oh yes He will! God does not just shut this and that down. He acts with purpose. He really and truly loves us and is there for us. Our names are not just Trudeau or Simonelli or Kudrik or O’Mara. We’re called by His Name — “Christian,” and that means a lot to Him as it certainly should to us. We are His own, purchased by the Blood of His Son, our risen Lord Jesus Christ. What pride, what confidence before God, what an “in” we have in that. So boldly profess the faith, not only during this pandemic, but most especially when it’s over. May a new beginning, a new direction, a rebirth, begin in our homes and with us!    

— Father Conrad.