3/26/2017 12:00 AM
As you have noticed, during the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent, we have a series of long readings from St. John’s account of the Holy Gospel, as we accompany the Elect and Candidates for Full Communion on their journey towards Baptism and Reception into the Church at the Easter Vigil. The readings have central themes of Water, Light, and Life, respectively, each week.
These are powerful readings and each line contained in the reading could be the source of a long reflection and prayer; because they are a result of John the Apostle spending many years reflecting and praying over the events that he relates. And as he reflected on the events of Jesus’ life, he wants to hold up these pivotal moments that shape our own journey with Jesus, as well. The Church has picked up these moments as key aspects to the process of conversion towards Jesus, hence these long and dramatic readings for this final stage of purification for our Elect.
Water, and specifically Living Water, is a sign of our entrance into Christ Jesus, for the Sacrament of Baptism is the first stage of our membership into the Body of Christ. Jesus made the waters of Baptism holy when he was Baptized by John in the Jordan river, and to be constantly refreshed and renewed in these Living Waters is to be fed and nourished by the One Who Gives Life to us today.
Light provides a central theme in John’s narrative account of Jesus’ life. From the prologue of his Gospel, the Light shines into the darkness, but the darkness could not overcome it. And John sets up a contrast throughout the rest of his Gospel of those who walk in the light (those reborn into Christ and aware of what He is doing in their lives) versus those who remain in the darkness (the leaders of the Jewish people at the time who cannot see Jesus for who He truly is, as in today’s Gospel passage with the Man Born Blind.) To be incorporated into Jesus by Baptism is to be brought into the Light of His Presence.
Finally, that new light brings new life, again a central theme in John’s narrative. Life is brought about by our union with Jesus, in particular in the Cross where He reigns as King of the Universe. Death no longer has power over Jesus, and therefore it no longer has power over his disciples, either. But there is always that eye towards the Kingdom that is to come, not just life in the here and now.
Whenever we turn to St. John’s account of the life of Jesus, we have to keep in mind the different approach and purpose of his Gospel versus the three synoptic Gospels. Thankfully, St. John was able to give us these deep and profound reflections for us to continue to learn who Jesus is and what He came to do. It would make a great Lenten practice to read through the entirety of the Gospel, marking down all the instances of Living Water, Light and Life that are present in its pages.
Fr. Kyle Schnippel
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