Monday, March 31, 2014

Thirst, Light, Life

To become an "everyday evangelizer," I first need to let myself be evangelized.  Again and anew.  Today, as if for the first time.

Have you been tracking the encounters with Jesus which the Church has delivered during the past two Sundays of Lent?  Coupled with this coming Sunday's passage about the raising of Lazarus, these three scenes from the Gospel of John give us a glimpse into the journey which Jesus invites each of us to make:

  • The Samaritan Woman at the Well (Jn 4:5-42).  What are my deepest desires?  How do my thirsts need to be purified and transformed?  What are the "five husbands" I've had in the past--and what is the one I'm currently living with?  Jesus starts this dialogue by simply saying, "Give me a drink."  From the Cross, he will cry out again, "I thirst."  What if Jesus is just waiting for us to comfort and console him?  What if he, the answer to all the unfulfilled longings of the human heart, simply wants you and me to open ourselves more fully to his love?  Maybe today I'll finally look at his pierced side and realize that "the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life"?

  • The Man Born Blind (Jn 9:1-41).  What blind spots continue causing me to stumble at this stage of my faith journey?  What darkness continues to lurk in my heart of hearts, and what part of me still needs the light stream in?  After identifying himself as "the light of the world," Jesus spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and then smeared the clay on the man's eyes.  Whereas Yahweh walked through the garden and breathed life into the clay at the dawn of creation, Emmanuel walks among us and reaches out with his healing and re-creating grace.  Jesus' question to the blind man rings in our ears: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?" To those who inquire with sincere hearts, "Who is the Son of Man?," Jesus' self-revelation still stands: “You have seen him and the one speaking with you is he.”

  • The Raising of Lazarus (Jn 11:1-45).  How does fear of death drive me, or cast a shadow over the life I should be living?  How have I been disoriented by a culture which strives to control death by manipulating it, as if death doesn't still have the last laugh?  Jesus says to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live."  These are not mere moralisms, or just another repetition of universal religious teachings.  On the contrary, this is one of the definitive manifestations of the God-Man who wants to unite himself with each of us.  Do I believe this divine self-disclosure?  Jesus knows the parts of us which have prematurely died, and he longs to free us from a fate which need not await us.  "Perturbed and deeply troubled," Jesus stands ready for us to emerge from our tombs as he commands, "Lazarus, come out!"
Jesus' words to the woman at the well, to the man born blind and to Martha and Mary at the raising of Lazarus are directed at us today.  They speak of transformation and liberation.  They also deliver what they promise--a re-ordering and a satiating of our thirsts, a light which shines in the darkness, and a gift of Life which crushes death itself.

These scenes from John's Gospel also provide a foreshadowing of the holy days to come.  For from the darkness of the Cross there will shine the glory of the Resurrection:  "Behold, I make all things new" (Rev 21:5)!