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Monday of the Fourth Week in Lent

Sunday, March 26, 2017



Is 65:17-21; Ps 30:2, 4-6,11-12a,13b; Jn 4:43-54
“You changed my mourning into dancing.”

Those who are preserved from going down into the pit cannot hold back. They cry out to all who are near, “Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful one, and give thanks to his holy name.” Those who have been rescued praise the LORD. Those who were drawn clear from the enemy extol the LORD. Those who have been brought up from the pits of hell sing to the LORD. They sing and invite all to join the song of jubilation. They give thanks to the Holy Name of the LORD. Though they have known the purging fire of his anger, just and righteous, they rejoice. They have known the pain of a divine anger that arises from a divine love. Because the LORD loves us he will not let us think for one moment that our sin, our self-inflicted injury, is in any way acceptable. The LORD sees our hearts and takes note of our behavior; He will in no way encourage us to sin. Sin and the evil one are our only enemy. The LORD’s anger is directed to this enemy. In the ways that we cooperate with such an enemy, we are purified, and that can be painful. Even though weeping enters in, we are revived by the dawn of rejoicing. In this moment we know the compassion of the LORD; indeed, the LORD is our helper. We sing and shout for joy: “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with joy. That my soul might praise you and never more be silent! Oh, my LORD, my God, I will give thanks to you forever and forever!” The prophet Isaiah summons all of Israel to this jubilee for the LORD is making all things new—the things of the past are no longer remembered—the LORD makes all things new! If the LORD does not remember something, it does not exist. How could we not, not rejoice and be glad? In the Gospel the compassion of our God is seen in the healing of the royal official’s son, and this causes the conversion of that whole family. How could they not, not believe?

This word of the LORD makes it way into The Passion by Mel Gibson. During what we would call the fourth station of the Cross, the Blessed Mother meets her son face to face and he says, “Mother, behold I am making all things new!” The mystic visionary who inspired much of Gibson’s presentation of the Passion of Christ offers us a glimpse of the intimacy of the Mother and the Son. In the pouring out of his life blood the Christ is giving birth to a whole new creation. All that exists comes from the Eternal Word speaking it into creation. Now this Eternal Word Made Flesh, washes clean and recreates this whole creation. Now the Father can again gaze upon all he has made and cry out, “Behold, how good it is; how very good it is!” In this new creation, this New Jerusalem, no longer shall there be tears of sorrow, but there shall be only tears of gladness and joy. No baby will die within the womb because of despair, or out of the womb because of a mother’s neglect. Everyone shall live in the houses they have built, and they shall eat the fruit of the vineyards they have planted. 


Again and again in the Gospel by Saint John, an encounter with the Lord Jesus results in faith, or growth in faith. Perhaps that is why we read and read again, year after year, the same Scriptures. Perhaps that is why we celebrate again and again, year after year, the Lent and Easter seasons. The Lord Jesus returns again to Cana in Galilee. The Lord comes back to the place where he worked his first sign, and there a royal official has a life changing encounter with Christ. This man is not given a name in the Gospel account. Perhaps because he stands for all who seek the Lord Jesus. He is everyman. He has some faith already and even though he is challenged by the Lord Jesus his faith grows. The Lord’s initial response to his request is, “unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” This critique is still valid. We live in a world that still seeks the spectacular, the miraculous. From Mary on a window to Jesus on a cheese sandwich, we can’t get enough signs and wonders. Even though the Lord knows this about us, still he is moved to compassion. In his tender mercy the Lord Jesus says to the official, “You may go; your son will live.” That’s all he needs, nothing more. At this word from the Lord Jesus the man believed and went home. Upon his arrival the fruit of his faith and the compassion of Christ is seen. His son is healed. This wondrous sign of the Lord’s love inspires him to share his faith with the whole family. Perhaps at this liturgy we will hear a word of command and believe even more in the Eucharist, all the healing love we need. Perhaps this new faith will make us bold in our witness to those who ask us the reason for our hope.

 

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