Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent…March 29, 2020
by Cindy Wenninghoff, Notre Dame Associate
The 5th Sunday of Lent is moving us ever closer to the Passion and this week’s readings are preparing us. From the Old Testament where God promises to raise his people up from the grave and give us his spirit, to the New Testament reminder that we must be in the Spirit to have everlasting life, we find how important it is to put our trust in God and with God nothing is impossible.
I have no doubt that when Jesus first received notice of how ill Lazuras was, that He would have wanted to be with his dear friends in their time of need. Yet, He heeds God’s call and He waits - two days He waits. And then when He makes the decision to go to them, He knows that Lazuras has died and that He will be performing an extraordinary miracle where many will come to believe in him… and many will come to hate him. Traveling with his apostles, who knew it could mean their death, they arrive at the tomb, and we feel Jesus’ sorrow as He greets Martha and Mary. He wept. Yet, His faith and love of His Father is never in question as He wakes Lazuras from his sleep and proclaims the glory of God. A true miracle, one of joy, but also of sorrow as He knows His time is near.
Jesus in performing this miracle was preparing us for his own resurrection. If God could raise Lazuras from the dead, we could believe that God would raise Jesus from the dead. It was important to see the power of God, and to believe, as Martha and Mary did, in the resurrection. I take great comfort in knowing that the spirit will help us through this journey to new life and great comfort in Jesus’ word: If one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
by Paul & Linda Cernik, Notre Dame Associates
The story of the healed blind man reminds us of the need to check our assumptions. It reminds us to accept the fact that we can be wrong about the things that we have always believed to be true. Jesus' disciples, the parents of the man born blind, his neighbors, the religious authorities all operated out of unchecked assumptions. They mostly came to the wrong conclusions.
We are invited to be open to seeing things from a new perspective. Wow! That’s an understatement! Our lives these days are all about making our daily activities simple and focused on faith and family. The gospel tells us that when we are presented with the truth about Jesus, even though the world rejects it, HE will search us out and lead us to deeper levels of faith and understanding.
Reread the gospel and put yourself in each of the observer’s shoes and reflect how you may have responded to this miracle. Christ is the Light of the World. Let us beg for the ability to look into the heart of each person we meet and to see reality the way God does. Pray for families whose lives have truly been challenged by COVID-19.
by Sr Theresa Maly ND
The Samaritan woman we read about this weekend is a truly fascinating story. An ordinary trip to a well turned out to be anything but ordinary. First of all, it was strange to find a Jewish man, we know as Jesus, sitting there alone. Then, to her utmost surprise, he began talking with her. I read recently that the orthodox church called her Photini, representing those who feel like an outcast, which the Samaritans were considered to be by the Jews. Then, HE asked HER for a drink of water. What next! We know the story, Jesus obviously knew all about her life. She was said to have five husbands and the one she has now is not her husband, and that her people had lost faith in the true God. They no longer understood what, who, where they were to worship. They were floundering. Jesus had much to teach them. Photini seemed to totally engaged in the conversation, open to listen, to question, to learn. She understood this was a very unique person. He treated her with utmost dignity and respect as he spoke of the true God who is worshipped in Spirit and in Truth, not only in one place but everywhere and anywhere. His message and his manner of speaking imparted hope and promise she had never heard before. Could he be the long awaited Messiah? Indeed he was! He is! This was too much! She HAD to share her experience – let others know. She ended up leaving her bucket at the well and ran to tell the townsfolk. Can you imagine her excitement in sharing her experience of the Jesus she had come to know! Not only did the townsfolk listen, they came back to meet Jesus, and then invited him to stay with them. Imagine the powerful witness of one woman who without question, accepted totally the love, forgiveness, the life-giving message of Jesus! St. Photini, pray for us as we carry on this sacred message.
A further note: Biblical Scholars are skeptical about taking this Samaritan woman story at face value, as I have done above, and offer other interpretations. Christine Schenk in an article entitled, ‘Clueless Preaching about the Samaritan Woman Misses the Point’ expresses one of those views in an article that appeared in NCR on May 6, 2016 and is now on line.
In it Schenk recounts an interpretation offered by New Testament Scholar, Sandra Schneiders, IHM. She points to Israel's use of spousal metaphors to describe God's passionate, covenant love for the chosen people. Samaritans had strayed from worship of the one true God. Schneiders suggests that Jesus was speaking metaphorically, not about an individual like Photini, but about Samaria's infidelity -- pointing out that Samaria's current "husband" was not a source of living water for the people.”
The article repeats the fact that the Samaritans had broken the covenant, compared at times to a marriage vow, they had made with God. It says much, much more but we can be sure of one thing. We are constantly being reminded of God’s unconditional love and our call to be faithful. How blessed we are!