V SUNDAY OF LENT: 26 March 2023

Ezekiel 37:12-14; Romans 8:8-11; John 11:1-45

I was in Grade 5 when the school showed us a film. It was a thrill to see the shades drawn in the school library and a 16 mm projector set up facing a blank wall. After the film, a few students were hanging around; the art teacher, rather than rewind the film, showed it in reverse. We laughed at the strange images: disintegrated objects were reconstituted, buildings crumbled by earthquakes took shape, people who had been knocked cold came back to life. It was fascinating!

Today’s readings are a vivid description of God’s power to run the film of life in reverse and to revive the lifeless.

Ezekiel (first reading) tells the exiles—dead in heart and spirit—that God will open their graves, raise them, and put his life-giving spirit in them.
Paul (second reading) writes to the Romans that God’s spirit gives life to our mortal bodies.
The story of the raising of Lazarus (gospel) shows us the kind of God we have: our God

  • does not intervene every time to remove pain/suffering and death;
  • is with us amid our suffering; he is one with us, compassionate and empathetic;
  • gives us life.

The recurring narrative today is one of fear and death. We can easily get overwhelmed and bury ourselves in a tomb of fear.
Jesus tells us what he told Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life” and asks us the same question: “Do you believe this?”

The liturgy challenges me to

  • make an act of faith that God feels my pain and is one with me.
  • spread the hope that God will revive our lifeless and listless world.
  • be a life-giver through empathy with people who are suffering.

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB

IV SUNDAY OF LENT: 19 March 2023

1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41

Author John Griffin was blinded in an explosion during World War II. Twelve years later, he suddenly began to see what he described as “red sand”. A specialist later told him that a block to an optic nerve had abruptly cleared causing him to see. Commenting on his experience, Griffin said: “You can’t imagine what it is like for a father to see his children for the first time.”

The blind man of the gospel had an experience like Griffin’s: after Jesus anoints the man and he washes in the pool, a son saw his parents for the first time! He saw more than his parents; he saw Jesus as his Lord.
While his physical sight was instantaneously restored, his spiritual sight grew in stages: Jesus is the man called Jesus, a prophet, a man of God, and finally Lord.
The Pharisees/Jews make an opposite journey; they become increasingly blind. They expel the man from the synagogue. Even his parents disassociate themselves from him out of fear.

For the evangelist, this is not merely another miraculous cure. John is writing to a community that is experiencing rejection from Jewish society. Through this sign, he presents the blind man as a model of spiritual growth to encourage them to continue to “see” Jesus as their Lord.

Like the blind man, we have been anointed and washed in the waters of baptism.
Have I grown in my faith response to Jesus: do I “see” him as my Lord… or is he merely a man, a prophet, a man from God?
Am I ready to risk rejection in my desire to see Jesus?

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB

III SUNDAY OF LENT: 12 March 2023

Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42

Several years ago, I was trekking with my friends. By mid-day, after trekking a few hours, we were half-way to our destination and were out of water! There was no water source/ human habitation in sight. Two hours later, we chanced upon a tiny stagnant pool of water. We were tired and thirsty. And so, though the water was dank, we drank!

Thirst! This was the condition of the wandering Israel.
It was thirst that made them grumble against Moses; lament their liberation from Egypt; question God’s presence among them.
God’s response? He gives them life-giving water: a reminder of his continued and powerful presence among them.

Thirst! This was the condition of the Samaritan woman.
It was physical thirst that made her come to the well in the noon-day sun; emotional thirst which took her through six relationships; spiritual thirst which made her dialogue with a male Jew.
God’s response? Jesus gives her live-giving water. He satisfies her longing for love and understanding; he treats her as a human person with respect and dignity. Through a seven-part catechesis, he guides her from ignorance to faith; she grows progressively in her knowledge of Jesus’ identity: a Jew, sir, prophet, and Messiah.
Her growth in the faith journey culminates in her leaving her water jar behind; she goes from being a social outcast to becoming a disciple and a missionary.

Thirst! This is our condition too.
We, too, have our physical, emotional, spiritual thirst. God’s response to our thirst is like his response to the thirst of Israel and the Samaritan woman. He fills us with living water! We need not go back to the well because the source of living water is within us… from our baptism.

Do I still go to other wells, or do I allow the living water to be my thirst-quencher? In what way can I, like the woman, invite people to “come and see” and encounter Jesus, and drink of the living water that I have drunk?

By: Fr Dr Mascarenhas Vinod SDB