• Education Forums

Bible Study Guide for Fourth Sunday in Lent, Year A

March 19, 2023

[1 Samuel 16:1-13,  Ephesians 5:8-14,  John 9:1-41,  Psalm 23]

Today’s readings invite us to look for God in unexpected places. In the first reading, God has sent the prophet Samuel to identify Israel’s next king. Jesse presents each of his sons in turn except he doesn’t bother to bring in the youngest who is out tending the sheep. Still, they should have known better. After God chose Isaac over Ishmael and the younger twin Jacob over Esau, they should have at least been open to the possibility that God tends to defy convention and chooses the younger. Still, as human beings we tend to stick with the conventional and like many cultures, the Ancient Near East tended to prioritize older sons over younger ones. Jesse had not considered it worthwhile to even bring David in from tending the sheep, but David turned out to be God’s choice.

In the Gospel, we also find grace in an unlikely place. The disciples are asking Jesus about a man born blind, as they understood that such a circumstance must be punishment for some sin. They already had the Book of Job which thoroughly discredits that idea, but they do seem to cling to the idea that someone must be to blame. We often cling to that idea too. Someone has to be to blame! But in this case, nobody was to blame. In this case, this man was born blind “so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”

In this story, God’s works are revealed by miraculous healing – although even that was complicated. Jesus gives this man his sight but that comes with a cost. His community drives him out and even his parents seek to protect themselves rather than stand with their son. God was doing something powerful and new here, and the community found this to be suspicious and threatening. We also can find powerful new things to be suspicious and threatening. So they made it go away and threw this man out.

Paul warns the Ephesians against this. It is very easy to cling to the darkness. It’s a human tendency to want to stay with the expected and familiar. But Paul tells the Ephesians to instead live as children of the light – in whatever new and surprising directions that may take them.

– Kristen Filipic


Where have you found grace in an unexpected place?

Most of us don’t see miraculous healings. What are some other ways you have found grace through hard circumstances?

In the Gospel passage, the man born blind regained his sight but in the process he lost his community. Have you seen God’s gifts come intertwined with loss?


At "Educational Forums," enrich your spiritual journey by exploring our resources including videos of lectures, essays by priests, and other pieces about our faith, our church, and what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in the 21st century.