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Monday, fourth week of Lent

March 15, 2010

Blessed Monday!

As of today, our season is starting to shift. Up to this point, we’ve heard almost exclusively from the Gospels of St. Luke and St. Matthew. Today we move to St. John’s Gospel, and stay there for the rest of the season, with only 2 exceptions (Palm Sunday and Wednesday of Holy Week).
St. John’s Gospel is markedly different from the other three (which are collectively referred to as the synoptic Gospels), both in style and in content. John’s main purpose in writing is stated at the end of his book: “That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). As we approach the mystery of Jesus’ Passion and death, we need to be very clear about who He is–the Son of God–in order to understand the meaning underlying His words and actions, and the significance they have for our own lives.
We turn to St. John, that he might teach us.

Father, Creator, You give the world new life by Your sacraments.
May we, Your Church, grow in Your life
and continue to receive Your help on earth.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer for today’s Mass)

Isaiah 65:17-21 (new heavens and a new earth)
Psalm 30:2-13 “I will praise You, Lord, for You have rescued me”
+John 4:43-54 (Jesus heals the ruler’s son)

“Return home. Your son shall live” (John 4:50).

We were just talking about responding to God’s invitation to go home.
The perspective is a little different here, but God’s desire is the same.
Yesterday’s Gospel told of a son who “was dead” returning home to “come back to life” (Luke 15:32), today’s of a father leaving home to plead with Jesus to heal his son who was near death.
In both stories we see the “death” of a son, a father’s love, leaving home,
and returning to find new life.

Today’s story takes things a step further.
Not only did the royal official’s son live, but he took the first step toward eternal life.
New natural life led to new supernatural life as well.
When the royal official learned that his son had recovered
at the very moment that Jesus said he would,
he and his whole household (including his son) became believers.
They entered into the first stage of the “new heavens and new earth”
that God is preparing for those who love Him (Isaiah 65:17, I Corinthians 2:9),
which will be brought to fulfillment in Heaven itself–our ultimate Home.

This was Jesus’ whole point in working the miracle.
His lament, “Unless you see signs and wonders, you do not believe” (John 4:48),
suggests that He would much rather have had the family come to faith
simply by listening to His preaching.
They weren’t ready for that, though, so He met them in their need,
building on what little faith the father had, and sending him home.
The joy of that earthly homecoming pointed the way to the ultimate homecoming,
to the new heavens and new earth that will always be full of rejoicing and happiness (Isaiah 65:18), where God “shall dwell with them and they shall be His people…
He shall wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning
or crying out or pain, for the former world has passed away” (Revelation 21:3, 4).

This is the Home that God has waiting for us.
He would prefer that we come to faith simply by hearing His Word,
but most of us aren’t ready for that.
He meets us in our needs, whatever they may be,
builds on what little faith we have, and sends us home.

May we, too, put our trust in Jesus’ Word, follow His commands, and find new life.

Your in joyful anticipation of Heaven!

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