Sun, 22 March 2020
(Is.65:17-21; Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13; Jn.4:43-54)
“You changed my mourning into dancing.”
Here in the midst of Lent we find the purpose of all our suffering, the hope to which we all are called. “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.” And thus does this time of penance and fasting lead to the abundance found in Easter joy. For what is darkness but the world in which we dwell, and what is the dawn but the coming of Jesus to our hearts, the kingdom of heaven within us? And even in the midst of this darkness, the light begins to shine. “Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth,” the Lord says. And today we hear that reassuring voice speaking to our waiting souls.
In our gospel today we find a marvelous sign of the light that follows the darkness, of the joy that follows sorrow. A Gentile royal official, a man in darkness for his being apart from the chosen race – and whose darkness is compounded by his position of authority there – comes to the King of the Jews, the Light of God. In sorrow he mourns the imminent death of his son, and so the darkness is quite complete. But the man’s son shall not die, and neither shall the Gentile race. For it is great faith he shows. Enlightened by the One he seeks, he believes, and so his son is saved by the Son of the Most High, and so he enters the fold of Heaven. What greater joy could he have hoped to find, for not only is his son “brought… up from the netherworld,” but indeed he (and the race he represents) is “preserved… from among those going down into the pit.” No greater words of joy could we read than these: “He and his whole household thereupon became believers.”
Brothers and sisters, the Lord has made us to be a people of “rejoicing and happiness.” He tells us so today through the prophet Isaiah: “I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people a delight.” This is our destiny; this is our call. If we must suffer for a time in this land of darkness, in this time of penance, let us be assured of the fullness of joy that comes Easter morning: “No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there, or the sound of crying.” Yes, how particularly marvelous it is to hear of this light before us even as we stand in the midst of the darkness; what even greater joy do we feel!
The Lord conquers all. He wishes only life for our soul. And that life is upon us even this day. At the wedding feast we shall dance: “sing praise to the Lord, you His faithful ones, and give thanks to His holy name.”
O LORD, no sign should we need of your love for us;
only give us new life in you.
YHWH, what sign need we that you love us and desire to save us from the darkness and death that envelop this fallen world? For your Son has come and walked among us, and so your mercy is now near. Create your new heavens and your new earth, we pray; remake us in His image.
O LORD, we wish to weep and cry no more; no more would we see our children die or our own lives cut short – let us never be separated from you, never come to the nether world, but let your dawn be upon us and our mourning be driven away.
Let the fever depart from us, Lord GOD, that we might not burn in unholy fire but be redeemed from all our iniquity and enter your presence with rejoicing and happiness, living as you created us, to be a delight in your sight.
Rejoice in Jerusalem, dear LORD, and let all the nations round about find the salvation that is upon your House; let all come to believe in you and praise your Name forever.