Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

(Ezekiel 47:1-9.12; John 5:1-16)

The word Lent is derived from old English and means springtime. That might seem paradoxical since Lent always begins in winter and often enough passes more than half its days amidst the coldest season of the year (in the Northern Hemisphere). But Lent always ends with green coloring the trees and flowers blooming on bushes. In the fourth week of Lent we see a similar turn in the Mass readings. They no longer plead repentance and discipline but announce a return to life.

Ezekiel today exhibits the Temple as the source of life. From its bowels water flows that not only irrigates the land but also purifies the sea. John’s gospel shows Jesus as an even more effective life-giver. The paralytic does not have to manipulate himself into the Temple’s waters but only encounter the Lord to be cured.

With Easter approaching, Lenten penances seem to lose their bite. We have become used to life without chocolate, wine, or what have you. We also know that our time to enjoy these delights is not long coming. But the real excitement as we enter the home stretch of the Lenten course is not about anything savory to the tongue. It concerns the coming assurance that death will not close our lives and the emerging neophytes in the Church who will testify with us to this truth.