Throughout the Lenten season, we will post reflections for holy days and Sundays from both this year’s Lenten reflection booklet, Witnesses on the way, which includes all-new reflections written by National Council Chair Charlene Howard and her husband Michael Howard (and daily reflections from newly-named Ambassadors of Peace) and from previously published Lenten booklets; the reflection below was written by Angie O’Gorman for the 2011 bookletClick here to see all reflections as they are posted as well as links to other Lenten resources on our Lent 2023 webpage.

You can still purchase and download this year’s e-booklet, Witnesses on the way: Reflections for Lent 2023. Read more at this link or click here to order and download now.

REFLECTION FOR Sunday, March 19, 2023

by Angie O’Gorman, originally published in “Coming to consciousness: Reflections for Lent 2011.

1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a | Ephesians 5:8-14 | John 9:1-41 or 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made manifest through him. We have to do the works of the one who sent me …
John 9:3

In the long reading from John, we again hear the first century Jewish understanding of physical ailments as an outward sign of sin. Imagine the blind man’s hopelessness at not only being born blind, but, as a consequence, being thought a sinner and excluded from his community. Thus, Jesus’s response to the question of whose sin caused the man’s blindness is one of great hope. It wasn’t sin, Jesus says, “but that the works of God might be made manifest in him” (John 9: 3).

Fifth-century mosaic from the nave of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna

What a different psychological and physical stance we could take towards sin in ourselves and others if we understood such weakness as a potential for making God manifest. For one thing, despair over our own powerlessness might diminish. But our tendencies to condemn others — either individual or national “others” — for what we perceive as their sin might be tempered by the realization that God is at work here too and will be made manifest.

We have seen this. Even in the most heart-rending suffering, something seemingly internal to the human spirit arises and will not be denied. The manifestation does not negate the suffering but emerges from it, transforming a meaningless hell into restored life.


  • How can you use the weaknesses you perceive in yourself to bring God’s love to others?

>> Join the Pax Christi USA community on Monday, March 20, for the fourth in our weekly series of Lenten prayer services over ZoomClick here for more information and to register

>> Click here to see more resources for prayer, study and action this Lenten season.

4 thoughts on “Reflection for the fourth Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2023

  1. Jesus said that he came into the world to heal it. Later he said that he came to give life in abundance. My shortcomings or bad acts are the material God uses to make works of divine art. The first incarnation– as Richard Rohr terms creation– was the starting point for God to make all things perfect in and through God. As in God there is no beginning or end (time being a human concept), the original blessing is eternal. Humans may ignore or defy God, but God never stops loving, healing, forgiving, despite appearances.

  2. People seem unable to see the scandal of Catholic schools.
    If we are not able to provide “a preferential option for the poor” in our Catholic schools, the schools should be closed and the resources used for something else which can be kept open to the poor.

  3. I thought there was a Zoom for Sunday March 19, 2023. If so, where and how do I join?

Leave a Reply