The 2nd Sunday in Lent
Background: We read this week the last of three interconnected episodes in the gospel: Jesus’s baptism, temptation, and now transfiguration. What links them is that they deal with the meaning of his being the beloved Son/Servant. We have seen how he has struggled to understand the meaning of his Sonship; now for his disciples the meaning is confirmed as the voice tells them to “listen to him.” If, like Abram, we put our deepest trust in God, our journey of faith will not be aimless for we shall see God’s promise fulfilled in glory.
- In what person in your life have you seen God’s glory revealed to you?
- For whom have you been a revelation of God’s glory at work in our world?
- Which person brings you liberation and a sense of purpose when you listen to them?
- How is our church good at revealing God’s glory? What do we still need to work on?
Practice: Love is shown more in deeds than in words. Each day this week ponder how good you are at sharing your love with a different person or group: your significant other, your parents, your children, your coworkers, your neighbors, your schoolmates, and so on. What needs to change for your light to shine more brightly for others?
Introduction for the 3rd to 5th Sundays in Lent
For three Sundays the gospel selections from John are part of the final, intense preparation of those called to the Easter sacraments of initiation. The scrutiny celebrated each Sunday is meant to help them “achiev(e) an intimate knowledge of Christ” by “progress[ing] in genuine self-knowledge through serious examination of their lives and true repentance” (RCIA 142). They will come to trust the transforming power of Christ at work within them as they encounter him as the living water (3rd Sunday), the light of the world (4th Sunday), and the resurrection and the life (5th Sunday).
We who accompany them on their journey of faith are also invited to strengthen our relationship with Christ by turning away once again from whatever keeps us from holding fast to him in love.
Blessing ourselves with holy water as we enter church is an ancient custom. Rather than being a bit of Catholic magic, it is meant to remind us of our baptism, of the cleansing that God continually gives us and of God’s invitation to be part of his covenant people.
The 3rd Sunday in Lent
Background: Jesus will step over boundaries in order to bring the good news to everyone. Although the Samaritans claimed to be authentic inheritors of God’s covenant, the Jews regarded them as apostates and refused to allow them to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem. And so, the Samaritans had built their own Temple on Mt. Gerizim. Yet in this passage Jesus not only asks a Samaritan but a woman to give him a drink of water. An important detail: she is coming to the village well alone and in the heat of the day probably because the other women won’t have anything to do with her because her checkered marital history. She is an outsider.
- In what ways have you found yourself alone, thirsty, dried out, and hopeless?
- What are you afraid to tell Jesus about yourself even though you want to?
- What do you want to tell him that you are really thirsty for?
- How has he already given you living water? How have you shared it with others?
Practice: Blessing ourselves with holy water as we enter church is an ancient custom. Rather than being a bit of Catholic magic, it is meant to remind us of our baptism, of the cleansing that God continually gives us and of God’s invitation to be part of his covenant people. The gesture proclaims our belief in Christ as Redeemer and the words our faith in the Trinity. How can you make this gesture more intentional for yourself?
The 4th Sunday in Lent
Background: The Pharisees think that they know The Truth about God and about life. To them suffering is a punishment for sin, and God doesn’t listen to the prayers of sinners. Yet in Jesus we come to know a God who step-by-step leads people to know God’s power and compassion and to a clearer vision of the meaning of life. (The man born blind is also an outsider.)
- How have you been blind to a crucial truth about yourself?
- How has Christ’s life already scattered some shadows in your life?
- What are the shadows in society or in the church that obscure for you the light of Christ?
- How can your love bring light and healing to others?
Practice: Light a candle, and stare into its flame as you meditate on your blindness this week. What have you been blinded by? What have you been blind to? Each day list your types of blindness, and write down next to them what you need to say or do to bring light into your darkness.
Like those preparing for the Easter sacraments, Mary and Martha already have faith in Jesus. Their challenge is to grow in that belief. Can he really do the impossible right here and now—for me? Can he really bring the dead to life—even me? Have we asked him?
The 5th Sunday in Lent
Background: Like those preparing for the Easter sacraments, Mary and Martha already have faith in Jesus. Their challenge is to grow in that belief. Can he really do the impossible right here and now—for me? Can he really bring the dead to life—even me? Have we asked him?
- What part of your life makes you feel as if you were living in a tomb? What old habits or perspectives make you feel trapped and lifeless?
- What part of society or the church makes you feel the same way?
- What do you experience a call to come forth from your tomb? To liberation?
- How has Jesus been restoring you to life? When do you feel his new life in you?
Practice: Some people live in tombs—through chronic illness, disability, mental or emotional challenge, age, etc. Look around at your own life, and discover whom you can bring to life simply by reaching out to them. Then do so.