You Were Once in Darkness, But Now You Are Light in the Lord

03-19-2023Weekly ReflectionFr. Manasseh Iorchir, VC

Beginning last weekend, using the Gospel of St. John and forming a trifecta of liturgical weekends, the Church introduced us to the mysteries of the Sacraments. This is to increase the understanding of the Catechumens about the mysteries they are about to receive, and to the Baptized, a renewal and recommitment to the fruits of the Sacraments. The Readings last weekend exposed the mysteries of sanctifying Grace which Christ bestows on all believers through the Sacraments in order to graciously grant them eternal life. This weekend, the Readings are themed around anointing and light.

In the First Reading, God directs Samuel to anoint David as King over Israel in order to replace Saul who was lost to disobedience. As soon as David is anointed in the presence of witnesses, Scripture testifies that the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him and remained with him from that day onward.

In the Gospel passage, Jesus meets a man who was born blind and decided to change his life by granting him sight. After anointing his eyes with clay on which Jesus spat, Jesus asked him to “go and wash in the pool of Siloam.” By using clay (which indicates a connection with the original material with which Adam was made) and directing him to “go and wash…”, Jesus recreated this man, moving him from darkness to light, and revealed the true effect of the Sacrament of Baptism which effectively washes away from us Original Sin. This man, now enlightened, pulls off a spirited defense of the person and mission of Christ, thereby practically demonstrating the ontological change that happens when one is recreated by the power of the Holy Spirit through the waters of Baptism. The Holy Spirit grants, among other gifts, courage to witness to the truth with conviction.

A significant part of the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism is the dual-anointing of the candidate. One anointing is effected on the chest of the Catechumen before the actual “washing away of original sin” by water. During this initial anointing, the minister declares to the one being anointed, “we anoint you with the Oil of Salvation in the name of Christ, our Savior, may He strengthen you with His power…”. The second anointing takes place after the actual Baptism is completed and it is affected by the anointing of the Baptized with the Oil of Chrism on the forehead, conferring on them the triple privileges of Priest (the common priesthood of the Baptized), Prophet and King. With these anointings, the Christian, like David in the First Reading, is empowered with the Holy Spirit and, like the blind man who was healed, receives spiritual enlightenment and is no longer in darkness. Thus, the newly enlightened is encouraged by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians (the Second Reading), “ live as children of the light, for light produces every kind of goodness, righteousness and truth.” This is essentially what our Catechumens will embrace at their Baptism, and what each of us is invited to recommit to at Easter. We are, with the newly Baptized, exhorted to take no part in the fruitless works of darkness, but rather expose them and learn to do what is pleasing to God. If we have received enlightenment (Baptism) but have blurred our vision with lukewarmness and sin, St. Paul strongly encourages us to “awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead.”

May the Light, which our Catechumens receive during Easter, never be conquered by the darkness of this world, and may Jesus keep the flame of faith ever alive in the hearts of all Christians.

Please be kind and may God bless you.

Fr. Manasseh