Homily of Bishop Fintan for Laetare Sunday, Mother’s Day

4th Sunday of Lent, Year A, Sunday, 22nd of March, 2020, Mother’s Day, Ennis Cathedral Via Webcam


Laetare Sunday

The Fourth Sunday of Lent is called Lætare (Rejoice) Sunday.  We capture some of this sense of joy in the words of today’s entrance antiphon, collects and other parts of the liturgy! Even in these dark and confusing times, we mark the Church’s joy in anticipation of the Resurrection of Our Lord in a few short weeks time.


Mother’s Day

We also celebrate Mother’s day, a day in which we

  • celebrate with,
  • rejoice in
  • and pray for

mothers all over for all that they do and all that they are in their outstanding vocations as mothers.


Reflection on the Vocation of Mothers

Cardinal Mindszenty, a Hungarian Cardinal penned a reflection on the vocation of mothers some decades ago.  It runs:


The Most Important person on earth is a mother.

She cannot claim the honour of having

Built Notre Dame Cathedral.  She need not.


She has built something

More magnificent than any cathedral;

A dwelling for an immortal soul,

The tiny perfection of her baby’s body.


The Angels have not been blessed with such a grace.

They cannot share in God’s creative miracle

To bring new saints to heaven.

Only a mother can.


Mothers are closer to God the creator than any other creature.

God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation.


What on God’s earth is more glorious than this – to be a mother.




Our scripture readings today are about sight and seeing. Light and darkness.


Darkness of Recent Times

In the past weeks we have been plunged into such enveloping darkness that has changed our lives and world profoundly.  In the midst of it we long for a glimmer of hope, light at the end of this very long and seemingly endless tunnel.  And so on this Laetare Sunday we turn to the Word of God and the words of the Scriptures for consolation.



In the first reading from Samuel, we are told that God sees into the heart and does not judge by appearances.



St. Paul in the second reading reminds us that we are “children of light” and that we are made for light and not darkness.


Gospel of John

Our Gospel, at first glance, is a lovely story about the cure of a blind Jewish man, healed by Jesus on the Sabbath. He then becomes a believer in Jesus. He is not only healed physically, but also sees who Jesus is, comes to believe in Him.  This is in contrast to the Pharisees who see only the rules that are broken but refuse to believe.


A Gospel about Faith

Today’s gospel is really about faith – and about the blindness of those who think they can see.


We are not blind surely?” The question was put to Jesus by Pharisees who could see in a physical sense, nothing wrong with their eyesight. Their problem was that they were spiritually blind. They could not see or refused to see God’s activity in their midst.


Jesus says that no one is to blame for this man’s blindness but he adds that the man was born blind “so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” What Jesus means is that God is going to use this random meeting with the blind man to inspire others with his healing.


Amazing Grace

The former slave trader John Newton wrote the famous words ‘I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see. Newton was not literally blind; he was referring to his earlier life as a sea captain and a slave trader, a life in which he was blind to the love of God and to the true significance of the suffering human beings he was buying and selling.


However, through a gradual process of Christian conversion, Newton’s eyes were opened and he came to faith in Jesus. He did not immediately give up his slave trading; like many people in the eighteenth century, he at first saw no contradiction between Christian faith and slavery. But gradually the Lord opened his eyes on that issue as well, and eventually he worked tirelessly for the abolition of the slave trade.


Sherlock Holmes solves the Mystery of Perception

Sherlock Holmes, the great detective who had solved many mysteries and Dr Watson, his companion, went on a camping trip. After a good meal, they went into their tent and got into their sleeping bags for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes woke and nudged his friend.

Watson, look up and tell me what you see.”

Watson replied, “I see millions and millions of stars“.

Sherlock Holmes said, “Well Watson, what does that tell you“? Watson pondered for a minute and then replied;

Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.

Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo and I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three in the morning. Theologically, I can see that God is all-powerful and that we are small and insignificant.

Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.

Why, what does it tell you“?

Sherlock Holmes responded,

Watson you clown, someone stole our tent“.

Watson had missed the most obvious. He noticed the complexities of the stars but he missed what was plain and simple.


Jesus heals our blindness

Today’s Gospel reading is about a lot of us who miss the point. In Jesus’ healing of a blind man, the Pharisees, like many of us, missed the obvious. We need to ask Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. We all have blind-spots. We are often blind to see and appreciate the presence of God within us and His presence in others.


Prayer and Conclusion 

Loving God, You look beneath our outward appearance and see your image in each of us. Banish in us the blindness that prevents us from recognizing truth, so we may see the world through your eyes and with the compassion of Jesus Christ. Amen.