Celebration of the Liturgy of the Word

at Home during the Covid-19 Crisis

 Fourth Sunday of Lent, Year A

 

Family and friends are invited to gather in a suitable space at home. Instrumental music may be played or a hymn may be sung.

 Leader:      We gather here as the Church of Christ in our home.  Unfortunately, we are not able to attend Mass in our parish church as we are all trying to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus in our country. Let us be united in the spirit of Christ with the Church around the world, and celebrate our redemption in Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.

 All stand and the lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

 Leader:      ln the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 All reply:   Amen

 Leader:      Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 All reply:   Blessed be God for ever

 

 PENITENTIAL RITE

 Leader:      Gathered together in Christ, let us ask for forgiveness with confidence, for God is full of gentleness and compassion.

 A pause for silent reflection follows.

 All recite together:

I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault, therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

 Leader:      May almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and bring us to everlasting life. 

 All reply:   Amen

 Leader:      Let us pray:

In a wonderful manner, Lord God, you reconcile humankind to yourself through your only Son, the eternal Word. Grant that your Christian people may press on toward the Easter sacraments with lively faith and ready hearts. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.

 All reply:   Amen

 All may be seated.

 LITURGY OF THE WORD

 First Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1b.6-7.10-13a

 Introduction to the reading: It is about 1000 BC, 250 years after Moses brought God’s people from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land.  It took a long time for these people from different tribes to unify as a nation. The turning point came when David became their king.  The story of how he was chosen is told in today’s reading. Samuel was a venerable old prophet, Jesse was a resident of Bethlehem and had eight sons, the youngest of whom was David

 A reading from the first Book of Samuel

In those days: The Lord said to Samuel, “Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen these.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Arise and anoint him; for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward.

The word of the Lord.

 Responsorial Psalm: Ps 23

Let us now pray the Responsorial Psalm beginning and ending with the response:

R./ The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

 The Lord is my shepherd; / there is nothing I shall want.
Fresh and green are the pastures / where he gives me repose.
Near restful waters he leads me; / he revives my soul.
He guides me along the right path, / for the sake of his name.
Though I should walk in the valley of the shadow of death,
no evil would I fear, for you are with me.
Your crook and your staff will give me comfort.

 You have prepared a table before me / in the sight of my foes.
My head you have anointed with oil;
my cup is overflowing.

 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all
the days of my life.
In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell
for length of days unending. 

R./ The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

 Second Reading: Ephesians 5:8-14

 Introduction to the reading: The ancient city of Ephesus was located on the western coast of what is today Turkey.  The Christians there existed in a society dominated by pagan values, which today’s reading equates with darkness.

 A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians

Brethren: Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light  (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is a shame even to speak of the things that they do in secret; but when anything is exposed by the light it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.”

The Word of the Lord.

 Verse before the Gospel

Glory and praise to you, O Christ. I am the light of the world, says the Lord; he who follows me will have the light of life.  Glory and praise to you, O Christ.

 Gospel: John 9:1-41

 A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

 At that time: As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.  We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Silo′am” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. The neighbours and those who had seen him before as a beggar, said, “Is not this the man who used to sit and beg?” Some said, “It is he”; others said, “No, but he is like him.” He said, “I am the man.” They said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Silo′am and wash’; so I went and washed and received my sight.” They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. The Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” There was a division among them. So they again said to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight, and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” His parents said this because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if any one should confess him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age, ask him.”

 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give God the praise; we know that this man is a sinner.” He answered, “Whether he is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.” They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you too want to become his disciples?” And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” The man answered, “Why, this is a marvel! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if any one is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of man?”  He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who speaks to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe”; and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard this, and they said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. “

The Gospel of the Lord.

 Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

Homily prepared by Fr Tshepo:

In the Gospel we have today the marvellous story about the cure of a man born blind.  When he is cured, he will be able to see Jesus as his Lord, something the Pharisees were unable to do.

 The disciples ask Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” There was in people’s minds at that time a close link between chronic illness or disability and sin. The former was seen as the consequence of the latter. Jesus changes the direction of their question.  “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him.” In other words, the man’s blindness is an opportunity that God’s power might be seen at work in him.

 The man is said to have been blind from birth.  God’s power and healing would mean the beginning of a completely new life for him. He will enter a new world of vision and brightness.  In the beginning of the story, the man is blind and he is a beggar; he is an outsider as no one accepts him. In the end, when he is able to see, he becomes a beloved disciple of Jesus. This is the logical and inevitable outcome: once we really see Jesus, we are hooked!

 After his healing, the man’s friends and neighbours discuss his identity.  “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” they ask themselves. Because he has changed, some people cannot recognise him. When we become committed followers of Christ, we too should change. Some people will say, “You are not like the way you were before! You are not the same since your conversion.”  In fact, that is what they should be able to say. That is metanoia, conversion, a complete change of life.

When Jesus hears that the man has been expelled from the synagogue, he goes in search of him and finds him.  “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Jesus asks him. “Lord, I believe,” was the man’s eventual reply. He is now a disciple, one who knows and sees Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.  Jesus says that he has come so that “those who do not see may see”; those who refuse to believe, however, remain in their blindness. 

 There are two kinds of people, then: those who – like the blind man – accept Jesus and become his disciples; and those who – like the Pharisees – refuse to believe and remain blind.

Let us pray for this: that we may see and believe.

 Questions for reflection:

The Pharisees ask the healed man the following questions about Jesus; perhaps these can help us reflect on our faith in Jesus.

  • “What did he do to you?” – What has faith in Jesus Christ done in your life? Can you point to anything his presence in your life has changed?
  • “How did he open your eyes?” – Has faith in Jesus changed your worldview, how you view yourself, others, the world?
  • “You were born in utter sin, and you dare to teach us?” – Do you share your faith in Jesus with others? How? Do you stand firm in your conviction that Jesus is your Lord?

 Prayer: “Open my eyes so that I will see the amazing things from your instruction.” (Psalm 119:18)

 

Prayer of the Faithful

 Leader:      In faith and humility let us offer our needs to the God of compassion.

 Reader:     We pray for Pope Francis and the bishops: (pause)

that they may bring all those who are seeking Christ to a deeper understanding of the faith.

LORD HEAR US

 We pray for those preparing for baptism at Easter: (pause)

that they may be able to witness to their faith, even in a hostile world.

LORD HEAR US

 We pray for all who are bound by the blindness of prejudice: (pause) that God will free them judging others and open their eyes to the value and dignity of each human person.

LORD HEAR US

 We pray for all those who are sick and for those who care for them: (pause)

that they may gain hope and comfort from the message of the Gospel.

LORD HEAR US

 We pray for all who are working to combat the spread of diseases, especially the coronovirus: (pause)

that God will inspire them with new ways to eradicate diseases and guide them in developing treatments and vaccines.

LORD HEAR US

 We pray for deceased members of our families and friends whose anniversaries occur about this time, especially for: Manuel Jardim, Mr. and Mrs. Barone, Jean Dodds, Marcus, Belinda, Oliver and Carol Phillips, and Tereza Carreira.

LORD HEAR US

 We pray for Loda Carlesi who died during the week. Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord.

 All:              And let perpetual light shine on her. May she rest in peace. Amen.

 Leader:      Let us pray our prayer for healing:

 All pray:    Lord Jesus Christ,

you travelled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness.” Come to our aid now, in the midst of the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love. Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care. Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbours from helping one another. Lord Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow. Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace. Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. Be with the doctors, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace. Lord Jesus Christ, heal us. Amen.

 Spiritual Communion

As the covid-19 coronavirus spreads, the list of cancelled events has come to include Sunday Masses. No Mass means no Eucharist. Jesus gave us his Body and Blood on the cross and instituted the memorial of this great sacrifice at the Last Supper. “Do this in memory of me,” he told us. And so we do at every Mass. It is only during the Mass at the consecration that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Thus, cancelling Masses is monumental. We can still unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us. Here is the Act of Spiritual Communion written by St. Alphonsus de Liguori:

 My Jesus,

I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.

I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul.

Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,

come at least spiritually into my heart.

I embrace You as if You were already there

and unite myself wholly to You.

Never permit me to be separated from You.

Amen.

  

CONCLUDING RITE

 Leader:      Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

 All say:      Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:      LORD JESUS CHRIST, by your passion, death and resurrection you have set us free from sin and death.  May your grace renew our hearts this Lent and help us turn from sin in our own lives. May we learn to appreciate more deeply the sacrifice you made for us.  Accept our prayer, fasting and acts of charity as we seek to draw closer to you during this holy season. Strengthen the faith of your people so that we may be a sign of your love to all the world.  We ask this through Jesus Christ Our Lord. AMEN.

 Blessing

 A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:

 Leader:      May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

 All:              Amen.

 

 

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