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Parish Daily Update 3/21/20

Dear Parish family,

As I sent to you yesterday, we will be sending out daily readings and Father Kevin’s homily each day for you to continue your spiritual journey, even in these times without the Sacred Celebration of the Eucharist.  I remind you, also, that you can “watch” Mass, celebrated by the bishop or a priest without a congregation at the Cathedral and St. Richard Church here:

–If you are on Facebook, you can find the Cathedral Mass at “Roman Catholic Diocese of Jackson”.  The Mass is celebrated at 12:05 each day and is available both live and recorded.  The St. Richard Mass is found at “Saint Richard Catholic Church” and is celebrated at 8:00 a.m. each day.  It is also available live as well as recorded.

–On the web, the Sunday Mass will be available on the Diocesan website.  Go to and there will be a link to a YouTube site to watch the Sunday Mass.  St. Richard’s daily and Sunday Masses are available on their web page,

–On tv – EWTN (check your provider for channel), airs Mass daily at 7:00 a.m. and again at 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.  

I am also including an “Act of Spiritual Communion” for you to use as you desire to receive the Precious Body and Blood of Jesus. 

I will continue to keep you informed as I receive updates from the Bishop.  And, along with you all, I continue to pray for a swift end to this pandemic, for all who have contracted the virus, for all who have died and those who mourn their loss, and for the world to turn toward the Sacred Heart of Jesus as never before.  Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.  St. Joseph, Pray for us.

Fourth Sunday of Lent

March 22, 2020

First Reading:  1 Sam 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a

The LORD said to Samuel:
“Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.  I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”

As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice, Samuel looked at Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is here before him.”  But the LORD said to Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him.  Not as man sees does God see,
because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.”  In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel, but Samuel said to Jesse, “The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”  Then Samuel asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”  Jesse replied,
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”  Samuel said to Jesse, “Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”  Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.  He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said, “There—anoint him, for this is the one!”  Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed David in the presence of his brothers; and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David. 

Responsorial Psalm Ps 23: 1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6.

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Second Reading:  Eph 5:8-14

Brothers and sisters:  You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Gospel:   Jn 9:1-41

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.  We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.  Night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.  So, he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, “Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”  Some said, “It is,” but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”  He said, “I am.”  So, they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”  He replied, “The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’  So, I went there and washed and was able to see.”  And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.  Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.  So, then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”  So, some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said, “How can a sinful man do such signs?” And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again, “What do you have to say about him, since he opened your eyes?”  He said, “He is a prophet.” Now the Jews did not believe that he had been blind and gained his sight until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind?  How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now, nor do we know who opened his eyes.  Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”  His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ, he would be expelled from the synagogue.  For this reason, his parents said, “He is of age; question him.” So, a 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 replied, “If he is a sinner, I do not know.  One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” So, they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”  He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again?  Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said, “You are that man’s disciple; we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses, but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them, “This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him. It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.  If this man were not from God, he would not be able to do anything.” 
They answered and said to him, “You were born totally in sin, and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out. When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  He answered and said, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.”
He said, “I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”  Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.


            The Greek philosopher Plato taught, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light.”

            Sometimes we have so ordered and arranged our lives that anything that disrupts or challenges that order is viewed as a threat or an evil.  Change is viewed with skepticism.  New ideas that suggest that the status quo is less than what is, should, or could be, are resisted and discredited.  The coronavirus pandemic, the impact of the federal deficit, even the changes we’ve experienced in the church — often incite passionate debate among people because these questions demand reconsideration of the deeply rooted attitudes and beliefs on which many people have based their lives.

            The curing of the blind man in today’s gospel demands that kind of consideration.  Jesus has so challenged the system, a system that was working well for them, that they were afraid to be open to what Jesus had to offer.

            Irving Stone wrote a novel about Michelangelo, The Agony and the Ecstasy.  In the story he tells how Michelangelo spent days scouring the mountainsides, in search of just the right piece of marble for a sculpture. When he found it and had it cut, he took it back to his work place and stood in the sun staring at the rock.  He was so ecstatic for he saw not a rock but David.

            Samuel was called by God to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king.  He is told to look upon them through the eyes of God and reminded, “Not as man does God see, because man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart.”  Jesse figures that wandering the hills with sheep and goats is not exactly executive training.  But Samuel chooses the most unlikely to be the future ancestor of another anointed one. After reviewing all the sons of Jesse, Samuel senses the Lord calling him to anoint David, a mere youth.  The Lord looks past the physical qualities to the spiritual qualities of David.  Samuel anoints him as king of Israel.

            Twenty-Twenty vision is a very demanding gift.  Because if we see something, we have to live with it.  So, it is often easier not to see the unethical angle of a deal, or the innocent longing that may lead to an affair; it is easier not to notice the lingering taint of consumerism. It is easy to say those rules do not apply to me. There are a lot of ugly things within us.  And we need to be enlightened, but it needs to be done gently and humanly.  Better than dramatic glaring confrontation.  Our belonging to the church helps us become aware of what we share with others, our light is not a lonely flame anymore.

            How is it we miss what the Lord has given us to see?  I believe the gospel provides us with the answer.  The gift given the blind man was deeper than mere physical sight.  It was the gift of faith.  To look with eyes of faith is to become aware of God’s presence in our everyday lives.  When the community heard the story of the blind man they did not understand, “I have told you already and you would not listen.”  He asked in a different way if they wanted their eyes opened as well.  “Do you want to become his disciples?”  This question is central because the blind man’s eyes were opened to the reality of Jesus as Messiah, a reality we say we already acknowledge.  As I pointed out last week, in the gospel of John we move from recognizing Jesus as a man to a prophet/teacher (Rabbi) and hopefully, finally, to Savior, Christ, Messiah.

            The Liturgy is being very upfront with us here.  We are halfway into Lent.  And the church is asking us “Have you seen it yet?”  Seen what?  Open your eyes and wake up.  You me, your kids, parents, and every member in every parish across the world, Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic are neck deep in the process of conversion.  Remember in the beginning of Lent we were called upon to PRAY, FAST AND DO GOOD WORKS, how are we doing?  These are the disciplines that help us to recognize God’s kingdom in our midst.  The things that really seemed important – work, money, sex, culture, class – are drifting to the edges.  And the things on the periphery – God, holiness, generosity, love, family, neighbors, are taking up a position in the center of our lives.  We do not live in spiritual blindness.  We know we are sinners; we know we are not perfect or righteous.  But we are called to see Jesus in our lives and in the lives of those around us.  We can see the world as Jesus saw it, love as Jesus loved, live as Jesus lived.  That is what we admit each time we gather and what we carry in our hearts: WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST ALIVE ON EARTH TODAY!

            Perhaps the greater miracle in today’s Gospel is Jesus’ opening the “vision” of those around the blind man to recognize the presence of God in their midst. The light that is Christ should reveal his love and grace in every human heart; such light should illuminate the dark places and dispel the shadows that isolate us from the love of family and friends. This Lent may we dare to embrace the light of God reflected in his Christ and so become reflections of that light in the care we extend to the suffering, the support we offer to the troubled and despairing, our hearts always opened to those struggling to cope with life’s darkest moments. 


            According to Norse legend, the god Thor was responsible for protecting the world from the monster chaos.  Every year he would make the complete circle around the globe, all the while beating back the monster.  But every year Thor’s orbit shrank.  The protected circle became smaller and smaller.  The god Thor had grown old and was weakening.  Humankind was in danger. Chaos and hatred threatened to overwhelm order and peace.

            The wisdom god, Woden, wondered what to do.  Woden finally decided to confront the monster of chaos.  The wisdom god left the safety of his own circle and sought out the king of the monsters.  Woden and the monster king fought until Woden managed to overcome him.  Bending the monster’s arm back mercilessly, Woden demanded to know how order could be drawn out of chaos.  “What is the secret?” Woden wanted to know.  “Give me your left eye,” the monster king replied, “and I will tell you.”  Woden immediately surrendered his left eye.  “Now tell me” he demanded.  The monster king smiled and said “The secret is watch with both eyes.”

            Too often we are satisfied with an incomplete picture, with settling for what we see with only one eye open.  Our faith, our call to discipleship, demands that we see things not in the eye of practicality, self-interest, and profitability alone, but with the eye of selfless and humble faith as well.  Jesus is the light that illuminates the shadows of sin, and the darkness of chaos, hatred and mistrust.  With the eyes of faith, we are able to see beyond appearances, and superficialities and look deeper to discover the timeless and profound truths of the human heart.  To see the world with the eyes of faith empowers us to re-create our world to illuminate the darkness of injustice and hate with the light of justice and compassion.  We are to live with a sense of God’s presence, to give him first place in our lives, by thanking him for the opportunity to enjoy nature, to grow in intimacy with those we call family and friends, in other words to bring our eyes of faith to the world.

An Act of Spiritual Communion

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.