Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
(Isaiah 65:17-21; John 4:43-54)
Yesterday rose vestments indicated that the tide of Lent has turned. Today the readings more properly give an upbeat tone. The first half of Lent necessarily stresses repentance and penance. Sin roots itself deeply in people’s lives. It takes serious effort to eradicate. (Would that all our sinful tendencies be rooted out in less than four weeks!) Now the people can sense Easter joy approaching like the scent of lilacs on trees.
In the first reading Third-Isaiah announces a new creation. People will live long, robust lives. Joy will characterize their activities. God will accompany the people in their celebration. In the gospel Jesus brings joy to a royal official by curing his son. The passage follows Jesus visit to Samaria which itself comes after his encounter with Nicodemus. A gradual revelation of the concept of life may be discerned in this succession. Jesus had spoken to Nicodemus of a rebirth to new life. Then he promised the Samaritan woman living water springing up to eternal life. Now Jesus, who is the resurrection and the life, restores health to a dying boy.
We may see our lives growing similarly throughout this period of grace. We heard of the promise of life as Lent began with Jesus overcoming the tempter’s wile. We would likewise shun self-centeredness that delivers death in the long run. Then we were given insights about our renewal in grace with the woman at the well. Now, and more so this Sunday with the raising of Lazarus, we find ourselves glimpsing the dawn of Easter. It is greater than any human existence. It is the absolute fullness of life.