Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent



 

Lo, I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered
or come to mind.


As we have passed the midway mark of Lent our expectancy grows. Something is about to happen. Late March and April put the winter of barren trees and brown grass behind us. We can leave our overcoats and gloves at home. They “shall not be remembered.”

Sometimes, when someone tells a story he feels conscience bound to say, “Spoiler alert!” But nothing can spoil the surprise of Holy Week and Easter. The superficial joy of the mobs in Jerusalem is still deeply troubling; the mystery of the Last Supper remains incomprehensible; the horror of Good Friday always overwhelms; and Easter – what can we say when everything has been said and its significance still lies beyond words?

Once again, in today’s story from the Gospel of John a routine miracle, described without the special effects of lightning, thunder and earthquake, invites us to look more closely at the Lord. He doesn’t even lay hands on the sick; he just tosses off a few words and goes on his way.

The story prepares us for the coming spectacle. We’re going to have to look deeply into the events surrounding the Lord. Non-believers will see nothing unusual. A rabble rouser was crucified by an edgy Roman authority after hearing complaints from local quislings. The rebel’s loyal following turned vicious when he disappointed them. He was crucified without incident; and the body, usually left suspended for days or weeks to dry in the harsh sunlight, was quietly removed.

Disciples of the Lord will be left with little more than a word – “He is risen.” There is no sign, no evidence but an empty tomb, which can mean anything.  There is a community of believers who refuse to be dispersed, even when they’re ostracized, persecuted and murdered.

They might be called conspiracy theorists except their attitudes are precisely the opposite; they are optimistic, open-hearted, generous and confident in the face of skepticism. Where some conspiracy theorists suspect the machinations of an evil organization, Christians see the hand of God clearly revealed.

They see a spring time in human affairs – new heavens and a new earth. Things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind. All changed, changed utterly:  A terrible beauty is born.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.