“A CHRISTIAN LENT CAN NEVER BE SAD. WITH THE FOURTH SUNDAY THE PENTUP SPIRITUAL JOY IN THE TRUE MEMBER OF CHRIST BURSTS FORTH IN ANTICIPATION OF THE EASTER JOY TO COME. ‘REJOICE, O, JERUSALEM, AND COME TOGETHER ALL YOU THAT LOVE HER’…” “A Lenten Sourcebook:  The Forty Days, Book Two, p. 51  The coronavirus certainly has the nation, the world, and the church in its grip. In addition to all Masses, religious education classes, Catholic Schools, sports activities, and other gatherings that have been canceled, as I write this,I am not sure what will happen as we go forward. The one thing we don’t want to do is panic, even though the media gives us every reason to do so. We need to use common sense in the way we take care of ourselves and each other. If we take care of ourselves and follow the directives of the archdiocese and the CDC, we should be okay. If you have symptoms like a cold or fever, please stay home and be safe. Please check on the elderly who are the most vulnerable.  Today is Laetare Sunday. It is meant to give us a sense of hope that Easter is not far away. With all that is happening, there doesn’t seem like there is a reason to hope. But there is always a reason to hope, and that is Jesus. It is Jesus who gives us a sense of hope because of his presence among us and his call to renewal and conversion. Today’s Gospel is the story of the man born blind. In the time of Jesus if anyone had a physical disability of any kind, it was thought that it was the result of sin on the part of the individual or his family.Dismissing all of this, Jesus offers the blind man the opportunity not just to see, but to be healed and made whole.  Jesus offers the same healing touch to cure our blindness. Our blindness may not be physical, but sometimes we are unable to see the difficulties of others or to recognize that they are as much in need of God’s mercy as we are.Jesus offers us the same opportunity to experience his healing touch that makes us whole and able to bring his Good News to others. Let’s face it though, sometimes we don’t want to see or hear the needs of others, yet Jesus keeps reminding us that the only way we can spread the Good News is to recognize the needs of others and help them experience the loving presence of Jesus through us.  As we continue our Lenten journey it is always good for us to ask the Lord to remove our blindness or our deafness that prevents us from seeing and recognizing the needs of others so that we may help them experience the loving presence of Jesus through us. We are the sign of Christ for others so that our response to them should be consistent with his example and all he calls us to be as his people. Lent is always a good time to take a look at ourselves to see what we need to do to be a better example of Christ’s presence for others. Then we are able to celebrate the Great Fifty Days of Easter, Mystagogia, with heart, mind and spirit renewed.  While all that is happening during the outbreak of the coronavirus, please be safe and well, and be attentive to all that is happening around you.  HAPPY LENT!! HAPPY LAETARE SUNDAY!!!~ Fr. Joe

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