lamb of God

Lent with the Evangelist John

LENT WITH THE EVANGELIST JOHN

(A Talk given Lent 2013)

“Look!  There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” Jn1:29
John repeats –
“Look!  There is the Lamb of God. Jn 1:35

‘Lamb’ is sign of love
the sign of laying down one’s life for another – the blood of the lamb on the doorposts saved the Jews.

John again refers to the Lamb in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 7: 9-17. The Lamb is sitting on the throne and before him are throngs of people in white robes and holding palm branches, “shouting salvation to the lamb”!
We do the same on Palm, Passion Sunday!

We can take this passage of the Evangelist John, the author of the Book of Revelation, and see that it embraces his Gospel message of the merciful love of Jesus, especially as it is found in the passages used by the Church for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent.

“Who are these people, dressed in white robes, and where have they come from?  …
These are the people who have been through the great trial;   (for us at this particular time, “the great trial” is lent)
They have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.  (“I call you friends”, Jesus at the Last Supper, told those who would betray him)
That is why they are standing in front of God’s throne and serving him day and night in his sanctuary; and the One who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.     (the Church)
They will never hunger or thirst again;      (Woman at Well, Jn. Ch. 4)
sun and scorching wind will never plague them,  (The Raising of Lazarus, Jn. 11, Everlasting Life)
because the Lamb who is at the heart of the throne will be their shepherd    (The Man Born Blind, Jn. 9)
and will guide them to springs of living water;    (The Man Born Blind) (Woman at Well)
and God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Rev  7:13-17   (The Raising of Lazarus)

We have within this passage from Revelation, the fulfillment of the 3 events of John that comprise half of our Lenten season, The Scrutinies. The original purpose of this period we call Lent in the Church Year, was the immediate preparation of those becoming members of the Church.

Lent is Conversion Time  – the particular journey of conversion is called RCIA.
Historically, right up to today the Church in this conversion journey, has used three passages from St. John’s Gospel for this immediate preparation for Easter. We are all called to conversion.  We are all called to wash our robes white again in the Blood of the Lamb, sacrificed for us.  We are called to renew our commitment to the slain lamb at Easter.

These 3 passages will be the main focus for tonight’s presentation:

The Woman at the Well: – the woman comes to draw water from the well
Jesus draws faith from the depth of her being

The Man Born Blind:        Jesus gives sight, insight, and draws faith from the heart of the blind man

The Raising of Lazarus:    Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus gives them new life, draws faith from  them

.
These Readings:  are central to this conversion experience, not only for new Catholics
but for all Catholics who are called during lent to conversion of
mind, heart and lives during these 40 holy days – “the great trial”.

The Great trial is symbolic of our life journey.
This journey is a call to fall in love with the Lamb, Jesus,
whom John the Baptist points to when he says:           “Look!  There is the Lamb of God”.

Lent is the time to be intimately with the lamb like the 2 disciples who follow the Lamb –
“Where do you stay?”
“Come and see.”
In a very particular way we are called to ‘come and see’ during lent.

We like to think that we initiate what we will do or not do during Lent.
Not so – Jesus does the calling –we respond.

Not only do we come and see at the ‘fourth hour” like the two disciples – the call continues deep into our life.
Each lent we are called by Jesus to go deeper into the well within us – we are called to spend time with Jesus the Light of the world , Jesus living water, Jesus our everlasting life, Jesus the Bread of Life.

The three Readings cited above are called the Scrutinies.
Lent is a time to allow Jesus’ love to show us our true selves and
to lead us into a deeper relationship of love, of oneness with him.

Will we ‘come and see’ not only at ‘ten o’clock’ with the two disciples,
but will we come to be with Jesus  at the hour of his betrayal?

That hour of betrayal is now
in every moment of now in the darkness of the world –
in the darkness of our secularized Christianity that is often reduced to what is convenient, –
Jesus is being betrayed.

And John wants each of us at every betrayal moment to be with him laying our head on Jesus’ chest
because by our Baptism each of us, like John, is the one Jesus “LOVES”

John calls upon us to embrace Jesus so that our robes are ‘washed white again in the blood “ of the Lamb crucified!
This is a paradox, isn’t it!? Whose robes become white in blood! We are called to see with new eyes !

“Clean”, when seen with the eyes of faith  – –  is to be bloody in the love of the sacrificed lamb!

If we have reclined on his chest,
then we with John will be there at the Third Hour, at the foot of the Cross,
embracing with Mary, the feet of Jesus – blood and water dripping on us as he hangs on the Cross.

There we will stay with him who loves us – stay for the day- – as did the first 2 disciples who asked where he stayed and remained with him for the day.

In the story of the Woman at the Well we hear Jesus say “I thirst!”
He then speaks to her of water that wells up to eternal life
and, if we drink of the water he will give we will never thirst again –

John, in the first instance is talking of physical thirst. “I thirst!”  It is noon, the hottest part of the day.

This “thirst” is replaced by a deeper and lasting thirst welling up forever  –  IT IS THE THIRST OF LOVE   – his love for her and everyone like her.
God’s love for us giving birth to our love for him!
This love compels us to worship him in every moment of our lives – not just within the church building.

Jesus ‘thirst’s’ for the Woman’s love of herself, and for her love of God

On the Cross Jesus again says “I thirst”.
As with all of John’s Gospel this ‘thirst’ is multi-level:
-the very physical level of one who has been tortured
-his whole life journey has been a thirst to do his Father’ will
-at the Last Supper he expressed his thirst for oneness in love
-I thirst that my friends may be with me where I am

This outcast Samaritan woman at the well, now has a thirst to proclaim to everyone about the one whom she has met
– about what has happened to her
– her new found belief.
She has been touched in the depth of her being.
She has felt true love for the first time in her life – even though she has had 5 husbands.
She has a new identity, new life, new hope
– a light is shining deep within her
– she cannot be silent!
Do you and I feel that way about our faith?

We were given this new identity, new life, new hope, a light shining deep within us at our baptism –
during lent we are called to get in touch with it.

When we truly meet the Lord:
– allowing ourselves to be internally embraced by him
-we become like the Woman at the Well.
We leave behind the ‘water jars’,
things that define us in the eyes of the world
and never truly satisfy us.

The woman did not know what she was asking for when she said “Give me some of this water, then I will never have to come back to the well again”.

What she was given by the Lord
meant that she would never have to leave the well!
A very different Well  – Jesus Himself!

This is where Lent is meant to lead us!

And we hear of the Blind Man going to wash his eyes in the Pool of Siloam so that he can see physically.
His eyes have been anointed by Jesus with mud.

Where do we hear of Mud – In Genesis.
Man was created out of mud.
A new creation is taking place –
by our baptism we are a new creation
–Lent calls us to reclaim this reality!

The Blind Man was sent to Siloam to wash.
Siloam means ‘sent’.
He now is sent and we are sent by our baptism.

In his new sight the man has so much more.
He has insight.
He has Faith.

He must proclaim what he sees
– not what he sees with his eyes
– but with his heart !

‘See’ means ‘to know’.
Biblically ‘to know’ is to possess and to be possessed,
The man ‘knows’ the love of God and is possessed by it.

He has become a new person –
a ‘nobody’, has in the love of Jesus become a somebody –
he is converted!

He is ready to tell the world!
– the big and the small of the world!
And as he proclaims what he ‘sees’ –
what he ‘knows’  –
to the world
His faith grows – “I do believe” !
He sees –
from the depth of his soul he proclaims it!

And only afterwards –
after he has been ridiculed –
He sees Jesus with his eyes!

He, in his physical blindness was an outcast from society – condemned as a sinner.
Now he sees with the eyes of faith and in his proclamation he is to become an outcast again,
but –  internally he is free!

God’s love has freed him physically and spiritually!
If our spiritual blindness is washed away and we see through the eyes of faith  –
we will see ourselves loved by Jesus.
We will see ourselves as having meaning ,
a meaning beyond all that the powers and accolades the world can give us.

We see Jesus the Resurrection and Life in every aspect of life.
With new sight we will see the glory of God here and now as did Martha, Mary and Lazarus,
because we will be unbound from the world’s trappings.
Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life
and his glory can be seen by us now in this world
if we believe.

We will see that we are destined for more than this world can offer.
We will see that we will make our home with him
embraced in the love of the Father and the Spirit
– not bound by the clothing of this world!

The living water that sustains me in every event of my journey
is the water that flowed with blood on Good Friday!

We see love flowing in blood and water from the slain lamb.
This is my sustenance.
And,
in every trial of our life this blood and water flows!
We thirst! We cry out, one with the crucified Lamb –
I thirst!
And his love sustains us.

We are embraced as one with him from the throne of his cross, bloodying us in love.
“I call you friends” he says at the last supper – “Because that is who you are!”
“Father I prayer that they may be one in us “

Isn’t this what we crave in life – to be so completely loved
that we are absorbed in a total oneness in the other?
And yet, in life it is never really attained.

No two in love, no two married, no parent and child is as one
as we are in the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

“As you have loved me, Father, so I have loved them!” Jesus prayed at the last Supper! –
“May they be one as you and I are one.  May they be one in us”

He prayed this for his apostles and all who would follow them –
He prayed this knowing he was being betrayed by one that he loved,
being betrayed at that very moment.

Shortly afterward he went to meet his betrayer
– the betrayer being one of those ‘loved’ with the same love as the Father and Son have for each other!

Now, that is love!

That is the love that we abandon ourselves to in Lent
– that ‘great trial’ of Forty Holy Days.

We abandon ourselves to this love so that we like the Woman at the Well,
the Blind Man
and Lazarus, Martha and Mary –
we too may be converted, transformed, brought to life.
So, we come to Easter, with greater conviction, with a renewed heart and mind,
we can say when we are asked “Do you believe?” –
We can say:  “Yes! Lord I believe!”

Jesus is with outstretched arms, embracing us.
Drawing all things to himself (Jn 12:32)
 He is offering us the totality of himself.

With arms outstretched – in pleading love – He asks us:
-do you believe – I am living water?
-do you believe-  I am the light of the world?
-do you believe – I am the Resurrection and Life; that I am everlasting life here and now!

Do you believe? “I am the bread of life”?

He is offering to us all from the cross
– here “this is my body, take and eat;
– this is my blood, poured out for you, take and drink!”

He is saying: “put your finger here; look, here are my hands;
Give me your hand; put it into my side.
Do not be unbelieving any more, but believe.” Jn. 20:27

For John this is what we see when we look at the Cross – utter love!
For John the love of Jesus for each of us is very, very real.

So during Lent  – the great trial,
the forty Holy days
we are being called by the Evangelist John, to recline on the very real heart of Jesus
pierced in love for us and all of creation.

Is this where you and I recline during these 40 holy days?

We are, by our baptism, disciples of Jesus.
Each present moment is a revelation of who Jesus is,
and what he is calling us to see,
to be and to do.

Nothing is by chance – such as Jesus meeting a woman at the well at the hottest time of the day.
There are no coincidences – such as Jesus meeting a blind beggar at the Festival of Lights – giving light to his eyes.
There is nothing inconsequential, or meaningless, such as one of his best friends becoming sick and dying.
And there is no one who is insignificant, such as a blind beggar and a sinful woman.

Through all things the glory of God is revealed.
All things are with, and in, and through the Lord, and lead to the Lord.
All of creation comes from the hand of God, has been marred by sin, and has been washed in the blood of the Lamb.
We, during lent, are called to become reconnected with this all encompassing truth, allowing Jesus to embrace us as his friends, into discipleship.
To Believe Is To Be A Disciple!
Will we be there in the Upper Room and hear him call us “friend”?
Will we walk out of the Upper Room on our own, or with Jesus our “friend”?
Will we be in the Garden and see him betrayed by a kiss from a “friend”?

Will we be at the foot of the Cross in the embrace of John and Mary,
while Jesus’ blood drips on us?
Will we say at the end of Lent “I have seen the Lord!”

With open hearts and minds let us begin our forty days of retreat in the day to day of our life,
seeing each day,
each event of each day
through the eyes of faith – the eyes of the Love of Jesus calling us ‘friend’.
Let us hear him in the depth of our being say: “I call you friend!”

And let us take the risk of allowing ourselves, to see ourselves as Jesus loves us – with no pretenses.

Let Jesus, with the Father and the Holy Spirit love us into DISCIPLESHIP!

During these 40 Holy days  –

Let us be quiet so that we can hear him say “I call you friend.”