I do believe

Daily Reading for March 2 • The Fourth Sunday in Lent

For many centuries, dating back to the ancient Jerusalem liturgy, the Church has singled out stories from John’s Gospel to be read at Mass during Lent. In our era, three of these stories—the most sacred narratives in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ public ministry—appear on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent. They are the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), the healing of the man born blind (John 9) and the raising of Lazarus (John 11). . . . Why are these stories given such prominence during Lent? Because during this season, from the earliest days, people were being prepared for Baptism, and John’s stories fitted beautifully into the process of Christian initiation. In time, the three narratives were read at specific stages in the Lenten preparation of catechumens for Baptism on Holy Saturday. . . .

If the story of the Samaritan woman has illustrated an initial coming to faith, this [story of the man born blind] shows that often first enlightenment does not result in adequate faith. Sometimes faith comes only through difficult testing and even suffering. Saint Augustine recognized that this man born blind stands for the human race. And the initial dialogue where Jesus proclaims, “I am the light of the world,” alerts us to the fact that more than physical sight is involved. . . .

Besides recognizing a baptism theme in this story, readers of John would also be taught that a series of testings may be necessary before sight really comes. Only gradually and through suffering does the man born blind come to full faith and enlightenment. . . . How many of us who have a traditional faith stemming from our Baptism come to believe in our hearts only when difficult decisions test our faith in God and Christ? It is then we understand what it means to say, “I do believe.”

From Reading the Gospels with the Church: From Christmas through Easter by Raymond E. Brown (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 1996).

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