Lent 5th Sunday Year C (Scrutinies) 2016
Holy Spirit Parish/UK Newman Center
As thirsty and blind as we are, you’d think we’d be dead by now.
No matter who you are, your education, background or tax bracket – we’re all thirsty. As thirsty as that woman Jesus met at the well. Thirsty for love, understanding, justice, and peace – thirsty for holiness and freedom from sin; thirsty for a life of faith that means something, for a relationship with Jesus that is as real as what we hear other people talking about. Whoever we are, we’ve come here today thirsty… But Jesus comes to quench our thirst: ‘whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst.’ We thirst – and Jesus satisfies.
We’re thirsty and blind – like the man in last week’s gospel, we are born spiritually blind. Our eyes might function, but we cannot see. We’re blind to the dignity of the impoverished and imprisoned, blind to the healing available in the Confessional, blind to the sacredness of creation and the tender care Mother Church offers us in her traditions and disciplines. We’re blind – but Jesus restores our sight! He mixes a salve of his perfect humanity and complete divinity soon to appear on this altar in the form of bread and wine…and then sends us to wash – to wash in our service to the marginalized, to wash in our respect for the earth, to wash in docile receptivity to the Church and in the cleansing humility of Confession – and just like the man born blind, when we receive Jesus and go to the places we are sent, He restores our sight!
As thirsty and blind as we are, you’d think we’d be dead by now…but we’re not, are we? We feel like it sometimes. Walking around under the burden of our thirst and blindness…carrying around what we know in our heads about the living water that comes from the One who can cure our sight, but somehow missing that reality in our lives. Desperately trying to live in the fullness of life in Christ, carrying the dead thirst and blindness around with us that we’ve been hauling around for longer than we want to think about…hauling it around like a dead limb…dragging it behind us…like…like… well.. like a zombie.
I just can’t get into the zombie craze that has been rippling through our culture for decades. Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, World War Z –Wikipedia lists more than 400 Zombie movies released from the 1940’s through today. That doesn’t count the comic books, novels, video games and hit television shows like The Walking Dead. Like them or not, there’s no avoiding the fact that the zombie phenomenon is a real and persistent part of our cultural backdrop. And the premise is all basically the same. There’s some illness, some mysterious contagion spreading through humanity – quietly at first, so sneaky and uncontrollable that it threatens to swallow up everyone around us in a strange sort of living death. Those infected become blind to humanity – their own and anyone else’s; with a driving thirst for more – more money, more success, more – more – MORE – that turns them into creatures who appear to be living but are oppressed by the weight of the death they carry around. Living creatures oppressed by the weight of the death they carry around… Desperately trying to live in the fullness of life in Christ, carrying the dead thirst and blindness around with us that we’ve been hauling around for longer than we want to think about.
Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back…I have promised, and I will do it!
…But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness…the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his sprit dwelling in you.
‘Master, the one that you love is ill.’ When Jesus heard this He said, ‘This illness is not to end in death.’…’I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.’…And when he had said this He cried out in a loud voice, ‘Come out!’ and said, ‘Untie him and let him go.’
As thirsty and blind as we are, you’d think we’d be dead by now…but we’re not, are we? We feel like it sometimes. Walking around under the burden of our thirst and blindness…carrying with us all that we know in our heads about the living water that comes from the One who cured the blind man’s sight to show us He wants to give us the fullness of spiritual sight. We may feel like we’re dead inside sometimes, but the One who calls us will not give up!
The One who comes to quench every thirst of our hearts is pursuing us right now, in this very moment, and He isn’t going to quit. The work of the water begun at our baptism is at work even today: it’s calling you, tugging at you, amplifying the voice of your conscience and thundering like Niagra Falls as it pursues you – patiently but persistently pursuing you so that you might drink more fully from the compassion and forgiveness and healing and eternally quenching font of love.
The One who gives us the healing salve of complete divinity mingled with perfect humanity and then sends us to so that our sight might be restored – sends us to wash in the pool of charity and service, in the pool of humble sacramental confession and the pool of discipline and obedience in the school of the Church – He is tugging at your heart even now, knocking gently but persistently to break through the stone rolled over the tomb of pride and shame and stubborn bondage to perceived comfort – and He won’t give up, doesn’t give up, all the way to the cross, to the altar where He comes even today to quench and heal and bring you back to life with His own body and blood that we break and trample with the death in us that tries to chase away the life He has come to give us. But He doesn’t give up – isn’t giving up…
…and He will win. Oh brothers and sisters, He will win if we just let Him. If we’ll just reach out to find Him there.
The time is short, but it has not yet run out. What thirst and blindness in your own life is the Lord Jesus working on today? What new life does the Lord Jesus wish to bring forth in your life when we reach the Resurrection of Easter? When we once again embrace the waters of our own baptism and revel in the light of the Easter Candle – the Light of Christ that chases away all our darkness and brings sight to our spiritual blindness?
Listen now…listen in the quiet of your heart…what invitation is Jesus speaking to you for these last days of Lent? What illness is he speaking to you that He wishes to overcome with His own water, light and life? Can you hear Him calling? ‘This illness is not to end in death.’…’I am the resurrection and the life…’ Can you hear Him calling to you, ‘Come out!...Untie him – untie her – and let her go – let him go!’ Come out into new life!!!
What invitation is Jesus speaking to you – and how will you respond?