Among the three year cycle of Sunday Mass readings the current one (Year A) is the one I love most for the Lenten season. It is deeply rooted in the most ancient traditions of the Roman Rite, especially when it comes to the baptismal aspect of Easter and the 40 days of preparation leading up to it, which we call Lent.
The Church’s thought is the same, so much so that a parish could always choose Year A for Sunday Mass readings in Lent, especially when there are baptisms to be celebrated in the parish community that year at Easter. And even during Years B and C, we are encouraged for one of the Masses throughout the week to resume the preceding Sunday’s readings of Year A. Sundays of Year A also have a proper Preface at Mass (the prayer the priest sings or recites between the dialogue “The Lord be with you”… “Lift up your hearts”… and the Sanctus – Holy, Holy, Holy) which is a beautifully crafted resumé of the main teachings of that particular Gospel, full of theological meaning and meant to provide us with rich spiritual nourishment.
I invite you throughout these Sundays of Lent to pay particular attention to the Preface and how it brings together some of the teachings of the Gospel. If you have the Magnificat or Seasonal Missalette or other liturgical resources where the Mass readings and the Propers (the proper prayers for each Mass) are provided, a good way to bring to fruition these liturgical riches of the Church in our own spiritual life would be to go to these prayers and readings and meditate on them, bringing them into your prayer, at home or at the Adoration chapel or even during your lunch at work.
After the first two Sundays in Lent, in which the Gospel theme is the same for Year A, B and C, namely the Temptations and the Transfiguration, and before Palm Sunday, the Roman Rite has three Sundays in which the Gospel is always chosen from John (like on Good Friday). A peculiarity of the Gospel according to John is that many chapters follow the pattern of a dialogue, encounter, often very personal, that Jesus has with someone. Therefore, this Sunday we have the encounter with the Samaritan woman (Jn 4), next Sunday the healing of the blind man (Jn 9) and for the fifth Sunday as we get closer to Easter, the choice falls on the resurrection of Lazarus (Jn 11). To the Samaritan woman, Jesus reveals himself as the living water (notice the reference to baptism), to the blind man he reveals himself as the Light (notice again the baptismal reference in that the healing occurs through this man’s washing himself at the Pool of Siloam) and to Lazarus and his friends Jesus reveals himself as the Resurrection and Life.
I invite you to pay attention at how Jesus impacts the lives of those he encounters in these three Gospels. He encounters people in their ordinary lives, everyday activities and yes, dramas like the death of Lazarus. Jesus wants that transformation to take place in you and me as well. Will you follow the path of those he encountered and let themselves be transformed by Jesus? Will you let yourself be encountered by Jesus in your ordinary life? “If you knew the gift of God…” (Jn 4:10). Do you know the gift of God for you? There is much more in store for you, more than you can imagine!
My prayer for you is to encounter and welcome Jesus this Lent in your life, following in the footsteps of St. Joseph and St. Patrick, whom we celebrate this week.
God’s blessing on you always!