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Father Muench Says...

An interesting cast of Gospel characters

March 29, 2017

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

During these last few weeks of Lent, we have rather long Gospel readings.  These readings present us a deeper look into Jesus’ effort to reach and help people. 

We also meet again some very interesting people.  There is the Samaritan Woman at the well, the man born blind and Lazarus who is raised from the death.  These readings are all from St. John’s Gospel. 

Then on Palm Sunday, we read the story of the Passion and Death of Jesus.  All four evangelists have written a detailed description of the Passion of Christ.

The Samaritan Woman goes through a complete transition of life because of her experience of meeting Jesus. Beforehand she knows nothing of Jesus; she is certainly shocked that he starts talking to her, even asks her for a drink of water. 

Somehow Jesus knows something of her life.  She is touched and transformed by Jesus – by his very presence – by the way, he respects her. 

She becomes his missionary and leads many from her village to him and get to know him.

What has happened to her?  She loves the presence of Jesus and wants Jesus to be part of her life.  Jesus wants to be part of our lives and often, these meetings are complete surprises.

The Lord needs us to know ourselves better and guides us to bring the Lord’s presence to others.

Then the man born blind – we never do learn his name.  He is also someone who knows nothing of Jesus yet, Jesus changes his life.  Jesus heals his blindness then he leads him to understand the importance of God’s love for him.

The man goes through much hardship as he remains faithful to what happened. The leaders don’t want to give any recognition of Jesus so they contend that he was blind because he sinned or his parents sinned.

The story reminds us of how often we have been blind – spiritually blind – not recognizing God’s love for us, not recognizing Jesus’ presence in our life, not seeing those who need us almost every day.  Jesus urges us to come to him to find healing for our own blindness.

Then there is Lazarus.  Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary, are friends of Jesus.  It is so great to remember that Jesus had friends, close friends.  Jesus wants to be our close friend. 

Jesus comes to be with Martha and Mary at the challenging time of Lazarus’ death.  Can you imagine Lazarus about to be called back from the dead?  Spiritually, Jesus often calls us back from a death – a loss of faith, a death of spirit.  In those times, the only solution for us is to turn to Jesus.  Jesus brings Lazarus back to life in a demonstration of God’s powerful love for him.

In his conversation with Martha, Jesus speaks of his own resurrection and also our resurrection to new life.  Our resurrection begins even now, even now we can and must find new life in the Lord.  So, in prayer, we should often turn to the Lord to help us discover the great gift of life – the gift of eternal life.

Finally, on Palm Sunday, we will read the Passion and Death of Jesus. This is extensive – it was the most important part of the Good News, of the Gospel.  The message of the early apostles always begins with the sufferings and death of Jesus.

Many people are part of the Passion of Jesus.

Let us talk about them next week.    

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