Cycle A 4th Sunday of Lent

 1 Sam. 16.1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Eph. 5:8-14; Jn. 9:1-41 or 9:1, 13-17, 34-38

Today's First Reading [1 Sam. 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13] gave us the account of the anointing of David as the king of Israel. Now Samuel was commissioned to go to Jesse of Bethlehem to anoint God's newly chosen king. [1 Sam. 16:1] As we heard, all the sons of Jesse who were present in the household passed before Samuel. None of them were chosen by God. While Samuel would have chosen one of them because of his appearance, Samuel was reminded by God that a calling is not based on one's outward appearance. God looks on the heart of the person. [1 Sam. 16:7]

Consequently, Samuel asked Jesse if all of his sons were present. He quickly learned that the youngest one was missing. He was keeping the sheep. Samuel immediately sent for him. [1 Sam. 16:11]

When David came in, the Lord told Samuel to rise and anoint him. For he was the chosen one. [1 Sam. 16:12] In obedience to God, Samuel anointed David in the presence of his brothers. From that day on, the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David. [1 Sam. 16:13]

The lesson that we learn from this reading is that God is free to elect whoever He chooses. The Gospel reading confirms the same message. It speaks of Jesus curing the blind man. the man became quite bold in his answers, giving a perfect example of how Christian should testify fearlessly to the truth. (v. 30-33) Referring to biblical passages, [Is. 1:15, 59:2, Mic. 3:4, Prov. 15:29] the cured man logically proved beyond any reasonable doubt that Jesus could not be a sinner. He had to be from God. That was the limit! The Pharisees excommunicated the man from the Temple. (v. 34)

God always chooses insignificant people to accomplish his mighty deeds. Elijah and Elisha. David and Solomon. Peter and James and John. But the Bible has lots of stories.

When David Livingstone, the missionary pioneer, was working in Africa, some friends wrote: “We would like to send other men to you. Have you found a good road into your area yet?”

Livingstone wrote back: “If you have men who will only come if they know there is a good road, I don’t want them. I want men who will come if there is no road at all.”

Down through the ages, whenever God has done a significant work, He has done it through a band of committed people. God doesn’t work through the lukewarm, but only through those who are fervent in their love for Christ and His kingdom.

This was the case when David’s kingdom was established. Through David’s reign, the name of the Lord God of Israel was published far and abroad. But great as he was, David did not stand alone. Surrounding him were a band of mighty men who accomplished great feats of valor. They were committed to David and his kingdom. We read of them in 2 Samuel 23:8‑39.

If God is going to accomplish a great work among us, then He wants to raise up a band of mighty men in our midst who can do great exploits for God. In saying “mighty men,” I am not excluding mighty women, but I am emphasizing the need for strong men of faith. While the Bible teaches the equality of the sexes in personhood and in standing before God, it also teaches that God has ordained different roles for the sexes (1 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:8-15). The New Testament makes it clear that God desires men to be in spiritual leadership in the home and church. The church today‑‑this church‑‑needs a band of mighty men like these who surrounded David.It might literally be impossible for anyone else in the history of the planet to be as inspirational as Harriet Tubman, a woman born into nothing and ending as a worldwide symbol of determined humanitarianism to this day.

The fact that she lived to 91 years old, which is nothing short of amazing considering the physical, mental, emotional, and marrow-crushing spiritual stresses she endured, is a testament to her extraordinary fortitude.

She lead her own family members and other enslaved peoples from the plantation system to freedom via the ingenious, existing secret network of safe houses deemed the “Underground Railroad.”

Extraordinary Humanity doesn’t require a cape or bombast to announce it, it just needs one person, then another, to make a connection far deeper than hate, violence, and injustice can ever achieve. It is the message of lent. We are called to achieve greater things. Our fasting, prayer and sacrifices have meaning only when they are able to  strengthen our bond with our community.

As Mother Teresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Those are powerful words. We are not all wired to lead change, to run a business, to run for president or to be an Olympic athlete. The reality is, there are limited spots at the top and we need to take a very close look at how we define “great” and the things we do every day to truly be extraordinary.

The daring attitude of Columbus enabled him to reach America and Tenzing and Hillary to scale the heights of Mount Everest. It was determination and hard work that enable a poor kid, DR. APJ Abdul Kalam to become the President of India. It was persistence and tenacity that made Sudha Chandran, who was lame, a world renowned dancer and Kalpna Chawla to be the first Indian woman astronaut who visited space.

Dear friends, the real essence of life lies in struggle. Wise men accept the challenges of life with calm mind. 

Lent will teach us to achieve this greatness with struggle.