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Father Muench Says...

Spend some time with three gospels

March 22, 2023

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Among the crowning glories of Lent are the three glorious Gospel stories that are read on the middle Sundays of Lent. First is the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. The second is the healing of the man born blind. The third is the resuscitation of Lazarus. Today, I would like to share with you some things about each of these readings.

So, the first of these stories – Jesus is alone at Jacob’s Well when the Samaritan woman comes to the well to get some water. Jesus asks her for a drink of water. He then begins a conversation with her. We know that this is an unheard-of thing to do in those days. The Jews and the Samaritans have nothing to do with each other. They do not get along with each other. So, the woman is rather surprised that Jesus begins to speak with her.

Then we learn how Jesus leads this Samaritan woman on a journey of faith. Jesus leads her to discover God in a special way, and she discovers belief in Jesus as the Messiah who is to come. Later in the story, we learn that she brings several of the townspeople to this same faith in the Lord Jesus. Today, this story teaches us that Jesus meets us where we are each day. Jesus knows a great deal about this Samaritan woman, yet he is never judgmental toward her. Instead, Jesus reaches out to her hoping to make her realize her own self-worth.

Throughout this story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman, we can realize that all that happens does so because of the presence of Jesus. This is certainly true for you and I today. When we recognize the presence of Jesus, we will realize that Jesus comes to lead and guide us in love and peace when we pray or participate at Mass. We realize that the Lord comes to be with us to guide us, to teach us and to lead us to come alive as disciples of the Lord.

In the next story, Jesus gives the man born blind the gift of sight. The story goes on to describe to us how the man born blind must try hard to prove to the Pharisees that he is truly born blind and now is able to see through the hand of Jesus. We learn that after a while, Jesus meets the man and leads him to find faith in God.

This story teaches us to recognize that there are too many times when we are truly blind, even though we have sight. We do not see that the Lord Jesus asks so much of us; we do not see that we do not realize how much our God loves us; we do not see that Jesus wants us to be his disciples and that he has so many gifts to give us through his love. The story helps us recognize that we are in need of healing. We are missing so much, just as truly as this man who was born blind.

Finally, on another Sunday we listen to the story of Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, who has died and is brought back to life by Jesus. Jesus comes and speaks at length with Martha. Jesus wants Martha, and each one of us, to realize that our God wants to be with us in love and wants to unite us with him in our time of resurrection to new life. Jesus declares to Martha that he is the resurrection and life. And we learn that we must meet with Our Lord so as to experience his resurrection.

Jesus goes to Lazarus’ tomb. I find it wonderful to learn from the story that Jesus wept. I believe that Jesus weeps for all of us often, especially when we lose a loved one. The Lord understands our grief. The Lord wants to comfort us and be with us and weep with us. This story then tells us of the dramatic moment when Jesus calls Lazarus from the tomb and back to life. I believe that one day, Jesus will call each of us to resurrection and new life.

I would like to encourage you to make these three stories an important part of your Lent. After you listen to them at Mass, take time to read them again slowly and attentively. So, John 4, Jesus and the Samaritan woman; John 9, Jesus and the man born blind; and John 11, Jesus resuscitates Lazarus.

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