There are so many great themes in today’s readings: darkness and light, seeing with our hearts instead of our eyes, being blind to the truth that is right in front of our eyes, and God’s constant choice to take seemingly ordinary people and make them great.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
1 Samuel 16:1B, 6-7, 10-13A
“The LORD looks into the heart.”
The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.
“I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
Our first reading is the wonderful story of how God chose little David, the son of Jesse, to be the next and greatest king of Israel. David was the 8th child, and in Jewish numeric tradition, seven was perfection–that kind of made David extra. He was the youngest, weakest, smallest brother, so nobody even thought that Samuel would be interested in seeing him. Of course, that’s not how God saw him–but as the reading says, God looks past our physical size and sees the size of our hearts. Samuel was told by God to anoint David with oil, just like you were anointed at your Baptism, to prepare him for his future–to be the greatest King of Israel.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians today, he reminds us that we are called to be “children of the light.” That means that we never have to hide our actions or our thoughts, because when we live the way that God asks us to, we do what’s right. Only when people do bad things do they try to hide in the darkness. But, our hearts are light and our good deeds are, too.
The Gospel tells the story of the man born blind. People in Jesus’ time believed that if a person was sick, injured, poor, or had a disability, that it was because they had done something wrong and God was punishing them. That’s why the Apostles asked Jesus who sinned to make him blind. Jesus said, that’s not how God works. He healed the man to show that this was true–that the man was not a sinner. Most of the time, when Jesus healed anyone he just did it–there was nothing for them to do to make it happen. Today, Jesus puts mud on the man’s eyes, and tells him to go to a pool whose name means “sent.” When Jesus heals us, we have to participate–and when we are healed, we are sent to share God’s gift with others. The man’s parents were afraid to speak up when asked about him, but he wasn’t! The Pharisees were looking for a way to show that Jesus wasn’t who everyone said he was. Their only evidence was that he healed a man on the Sabbath, when they weren’t allowed to work, and that the man was a sinner. They refused to see the truth right in front of them because it made them feel threatened. The man born blind told them that they are wrong because they were choosing to be blind, while he was healed because he didn’t pretend that he knew everything, but was willing to do what God asked him.
Do you ever feel, like King David, that you are not taken seriously because you’re smaller than others? What can you learn about the story of King David, and how God made him a great king?
The adults and children who are preparing for Baptism at the Easter Vigil are participating in a “scrutiny” today, where they ask God to look into their hearts, and remove anything that keeps them from being a “child of the light.” As you think of the man born blind, and how Jesus gave him the sight of faith, and the blindness that the Pharisees chose, ask God to help you see the darker corners of your heart and to shine light on them so you can see them clearly. Ask God to fill your darkness with his light.
If the scrutiny is celebrated at the Mass you attend today, listen closely to the words of the ritual. Do any of the phrases stand out for you? Use them in your prayer time today. If you don’t see a scrutiny today, answer the same question as the teens.
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”