Daily Readings Reflection for 4/3/11

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Scripture: Lectionary 31: I Samuel 16:1.6-7.10-13. Psalm 23:1-3.3-4.5.6.
Ephesians 5:8-14. John 9:1-41

Sunday’s Readings

Jesus tells us he is the “Light of the world.”  Fortunately, all of the
readings this Sunday help us to appreciate that title of Jesus.  In fact,
we together with those preparing for their Baptism, are given a great
approach to realize who Jesus is and how we can identify with him as the
one who loves us more than we can tell or write about.  His love is of the
“agape” type–total, self-effacing, turned only toward us and
unconditional.  The image that leads us up to the statement of Jesus “I am
the light of the world” is all the more appreciated as we meditate upon and
develop who Jesus is through our belief in what the Scriptures are telling
us.

The catechumens should be our model for they are carefully preparing for
their Baptism with enthusiasm and with the light that their mentors and
educators are telling them about Baptism and about who Jesus is for
them.The readings from John are excellent for this purpose as we have
learned about Jesus through the Samaritan woman, through the blind man who
is cured after washing in the pool of Siloam, and next through the last
sign of seven in John, the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  The prefaces
used in the Mass reflect these three readings and are worthwhile for our
meditation in parallel from what we learn from John’s Gospel on these
Sundays.  Our own baptismal commitment is renewed and we should pray to
have the same joy and enthusiasm the catechumens have.

Knowing who Christ is begins a first step toward loving him as he loves us.
We always should keep in mind the question Jesus asked of his disciples,
“Who do you say that I am?”  He may have already been hinting at who he is
with that question that contains the expression “I AM.”  This stems from
the tetragrammaton of God’s name in Hebrew  YHWH : I am who am.   To
understand that very ineffable name, we need the guidance of the Scriptures
to lead us to it and Jesus the Light of the world will reveal it to us.

In John’s Gospel the first chapter is already a great lesson in learning
about who Jesus is.  It is the narrative about the call of Jesus’ first
disciples who were prepared to meet Jesus by John the Baptist. They leave
him to follow Jesus who is pointed out by their master as the ” Lamb (it
also can mean Servant) of God who takes away the sin, that is the blindness
of the world.   Two of them search and find Jesus and the learning process
begins. After hearing his testimony Andrew and the Beloved Disciple (who is
not named here) follow Jesus.  Andrew searches out his brother Peter and
says, “We have found the Messiah, that is “The Christ” (Anointed One).
They call him Master or Rabbi– a first step in getting to know him.
Philip then is the next one to follow Jesus and he is seeking out
Nathaniel.  “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and the Prophets
wrote, Jesus, son of Joseph of Nazareth.”  Jesus is thus identified as
coming from Galilee and from its village of Nazareth. His father is called
Joseph.  Nathaniel goes beyond what first identified Jesus and says,
“Rabbi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel.”  Jesus
truthfully and honestly then says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you shall see
the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the
Son of Man.” Jesus is helping them to get to know him even better.

Jesus the true light of the world then meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s
well. It is high noon.  She, at first, is able to see that he is not a
Samaritan and identifies him as best she could. For her he is a Jew.  Jesus
tells her to fetch him a drink and to realize that if she really knew who
he was she would have the “gift of God” and he would have given her living
water. The woman responds positively and keeps the dialogue going.  She is
attracted to this Jew who can help her to stop coming to this well for
water.  So she calls him, “Sir.” This is a level above just identifying him
with the Jews who have nothing in common with her people.  She asks for the
living water (not knowing it is Jesus himself). She continues to speak to
him, Sir, I see you are a prophet as he tells her about her husbands and
the one she is now living with who is not her husband.  He tells her “God
is spirit, and they who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.
The woman does not stop responding and now raises the level of thought to
the Messiah who is coming and will be the Anointed One (Christ).  Jesus
then breaks through with a profound revelation for her, “I who speak with
you am he.” (Notice the “I AM” in connection with the Messiah title she has
used.  She becomes his first apostle by going to the village and revealing
what has happened at the well.  Can this Jew be the Messiah?  The
Samaritans then believe in him whom she witnessed to by her truthful words.
They reach a highpoint in knowing who he is and she already knew this: “We
no longer believe because of what you said, for we have heard for ourselves
and we know that this is in truth the Savior of the world.”   Yes, they
too, come to realize that Jesus is the Lamb or Servant of God who takes
away the blindness and sin of the world.

Thus when we hear today’s readings we can see that there is a development
that the catechumens have experienced and we too keep learning more about
Jesus and thus can come to love him more.  The blind man has a similar
approach to learning who Jesus is.  He is met by Jesus after Jesus has
explained to the disciples that the blind man has not sinned nor have his
parents, but the glory of God will be seen in what Jesus does for the man
born blind. Jesus helps them to understand that what he does will show them
that he is the light of the world.  The man is sent with a muddy face to
wash in the pool of Siloam; he does and comes back and is able to see.  He
knows that it is the man Jesus who has cured him of his blindness. Before
the leaders of the Temple he tells them Jesus is a prophet.  Was he
becoming aware that Jesus is the Messiah?  It seems so for the parents
respond to the leaders that he is their son and was born blind. They want
the man to answer for himself for fear they would be cast out of the
synagogue if they believed what their son seems to be believing, namely,
that Jesus is the Messiah.  The man is very strong and courageous as he
challenges them with the question, “Do you want to be his disicples too?
He is then thrown out of the synagogue.

Jesus now reveals himself fully to the man. “Do you believe in the Son of
God?” He answers with reverence, “Who is he, Lord, that I may believe in
him?”  Jesus says you have seen him and it is he who speaks with you. Then
he realizes who Jesus is as he falls down to worship him and says, “I
believe, Lord.”

We are seeing how well people are prepared for Baptism through these three
different scenes from John’s Gospel. Next week we will be privileged to see
Lazarus being raised from the dead. Resurrection is essential to what the
catechumens and we believe through our sacramental experiences. The sad
ending of today’s Gospel seen is powerful enough to make us think about how
great a gift our faith is and how if we lose it we are truly groping in the
dark. Jesus is speaking to those who did not trust the man and who did not
know who Jesus is: They say to Jesus, “Are we also blind?” Jesus says, “If
you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’
your sin remains.  Jesus is the light of the world in him there is no
darkness.
The original ending of John in chapter 20 had this for the epilogue of the
Evangellist: “Many other signs also Jesus worked in the sight of his
disciples which are not written in this book. But these are written that
you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that
believing you may have life in his name.”  Amen.

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