- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

March 22, 2020

Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO

4th Sunday of Lent

In this time of global pandemic, the global Church (which is to say, the Catholic
Church) reminds us today of what is really essential, and that is the salvation of souls.
In the first reading, the Lord said to Samuel: “Fill your horn with oil” – a material
substance which will be used as an outward sign of an inward grace, namely that the
Lord has anointed David as king. “From that day on”, the reading says, “the spirit of
the Lord rushed upon David”.

This is a foreshadowing of the sacraments instituted by Christ to give grace, most
notably in what we call the Anointing of the Sick. One of the effects of the Anointing
of the Sick is the forgiveness of sins. The link between the Anointing of the Sick and
the forgiveness of sins is beautifully expressed in the Byzantine rite, which quotes one
of the “unwritten” sayings of Jesus. This agraphon, as it is called, occurs in the prayer
after the second reading from the Gospels during the service of what they call “Holy
Unction”, where it is written: “for You are the One who said, every time you fall,
rise and you shall be redeemed”.

This saying is reminiscent of the mysterious ending of the second reading of today’s
Mass: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light”.
Every time you fall into sin, rise from the death of sin, and you shall be redeemed by
Christ. We rise by an act of perfect contrition, coming from the love of God, beloved
above all things, and expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness (cf. CCC, #1452).

Like the man blind from birth, we come to you, Lord, in our infirmities of body and
soul. We’re not looking for someone to blame, but to what you can do through your
Son. We freely admit that there are dark places in our hearts, blind spots that hide our
sins from us. We pray that in our weakness we may find healing, in our darkness the
eternal light, in our hearts the purity of innocence.

What we desire most of all, and with all our might, is to see your face. But we can’t,
because the darkness constantly blinds us. We want to look up to heaven, but we are
powerless as long as we are blinded by the darkness of sin.
Come to meet us, Jesus, as we pray at this sacrifice of the Mass. Heal us all on this

day, for you didn’t let the Sabbath stop you from working a miracle. Look into our
hearts as we bring our souls’ infirmity into the presence of your glorious power.
Apply your remedy to our weakness. You made us what we are from the dust of the
earth. Make a fresh start in us, and recreate us in your own image and likeness. Make
a clay paste and anoint the eyes of our hearts and our bodies, so that we don’t settle
down, blind as we are, in the habitual gloom of our darkness.

Revive our drooping spirits, good Jesus. Do not reject us in our humiliation; for you
came so humbly to this earth, and even made ordinary bread and wine into your Body
and Blood. Don’t let us wander away from the path your footsteps made. Tear away
the curtain of our sins which blinds us, so that we may see the glory of your face in
the happiness of eternal peace.