Lenten Audio Conversations
Transcript of Fifth Week of Lent Conversation
M = Maureen McCann Waldron
M: Hello and welcome to another conversation about Lent. This is the fifth week of Lent.
A: And we’re in the week before Holy Week now. We’ve come a long ways in the journey, and yet this really prepares us for the final steps of the journey in which we accompany Jesus through his passion, death, and resurrection. We may find ourselves still not having gotten into Lent very far. We may feel that this is an opportunity to really begin, we know the rest of this story very well, and yet we haven’t named a desire, we haven’t picked something that we’ve been begging God to help us for, or we may not have asked the Lord what he wants to give us, and so this time of Lent is still an opportunity to come back to him with all our heart.
M: This is the time, this week, next week; the readings take us very deeply into the story of the passion. You can feel the tension as things rise, and then next week of course is holy week, where we get to relive that and be with Jesus in all of that.
A: And our guide is John’s Gospel and we follow Jesus and see the resistance, see what he does, how he thinks, and of course while the disciples are very confused about what all this means, you and I know, you and I understand, and we can watch with the eyes of faith, we can be there as participants in the story because we know what it is. Even though we have very busy lives; this isn’t going to be we’re going to drop out of the world and make a retreat this week.
M: But there are so many things we can do, I mean, Lent is still prayer, fasting, almsgiving, have we been doing that? Penance, have we been giving ourselves to those kinds of ways of being in Lent. This is the week we can enter into them. Have I been giving money to or being aware of the poor? Have I been giving myself to penance? Which, you know, might be something small, it might be something like not reacting to someone who irritates me. It doesn’t have to be giving something up; it could be giving up some behavior of mine. And all of this is for Lent, it’s a way to enter in and this is a time to do that.
A: And part of that is something sacrificial; some way in which I am growing in the ability to deny myself, so that when I reach out in love or care for a loved one or do something I’m missioned to do, raise my children in a certain way of the faith. For example, I have been practicing the selflessness that that takes. And so, let’s pray for each other during this week, the closer we get to the graces, the more the evil one will try to intercede, so we’re praying especially for the catechumens and candidates, now the elect, who are getting close as well, and we can feel that this might be a time of resistance for them. The evil one trying to step in on the last leg of the journey to deflect their desires.
M: On Sunday, in some of our parishes, will be the RCIA mass for the elect. It’s the third week of the Scrutinies, a special time when we pray with the elect and with ourselves for our own upcoming remembering of our own baptism and celebrating with them and remembering what this baptism means. If we are at the RCIA scrutiny mass, then the Gospel will be the raising of Lazarus.
A: We have a special page on our Lent site in which we reflect on the Year A Gospels from John’s Gospel for the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays. So this Sunday it would be the raising of Lazarus and the reflection on new life. The story says Jesus, getting there after Lazarus dies, and Jesus looking into that tomb, that he will face in a very short time, and he can hear that inner groaning within him as he faces death himself.
M: And through that death, Jesus offers us new life.
A: This is all for us, and that’s the grace of this sacrament, as Maureen said, not to become dark about this, but to become grateful that all of this is done for me.
M: If we are in the non-RCIA mass, the regular cycle C readings, we have wonderful readings from Isaiah, where he says “remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not, see I am doing something new. Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? There is something new happening”. It is leading up to what is going on in the Gospel of John; the woman who was caught in adultery.
A: The remarkable thing about this is the law is clear that she should be stoned. And they do this test to see what Jesus will say. Will he join in the stoning? And instead of joining into the stoning, he does something very peculiar and probably very annoying to them, he just bends down, and seems to be writing in the sand. And then he talks to the woman directly. “Where are your accusers”?
M: “Has no one condemned you”? And she says “No, no one”. And he says to her, “neither do I condemn you. Go and from now on, do not sin anymore”. He’s sending her off, she’s healed. He doesn’t condemn her, he heals her. There’s something new for her just as we saw in Isaiah. This is the new beginning to her life, her sins have been forgiven, she begins a new life in this. She is reborn into something, the Pharisees, the religious leaders, they wanted to make the law more important than the person, and Jesus just says with compassion, “I don’t condemn you”.
A: Of course Monday, Lent is interrupted with a very solemn celebration of the annunciation because it’s the day after March 25th, which falls on Sunday this particular year. And the annunciation really fits in with Lent because it reminds us of the beginning of this whole story, the journey of God towards us in Jesus. He becomes one of us. He walks our Earth, joins our journey, and experiences everything about our life, including death and rejection itself.
M: And what we’ll see next week with the passion, the death, and of course the resurrection at Easter, starts here. This is the beginning of our story of Salvation. When Mary says “yes”.
A: And so here, we just can take time to be grateful. Grateful for her yes, grateful for God’s initiative, and then the one who comes to take away our sins is conceived and born for us, and that entry into our world for us is so completely revealed in the death and Resurrection.
M: And Tuesday, we move back into Lent with John’s Gospel, of course. Every day we feel the tension rising, we feel as you said earlier the drumbeat of this. Jesus refers to himself in this Gospel to the Pharisees that “I am”, which is that’s God. That’s how God is referred to is “I am”, that’s how God refers to himself. And now in this Gospel today, Jesus refers to himself as God. He says “I am”. And that angers them, that he would call himself God. And Jesus says “when you lift up the Son of man, you will realize that I am, that I do nothing on my own. I say only what the father taught me”. “When you lift up”, that’s a reference to the crucifixion that’s going to become when he’s lifted up on the crucifix.
A: And he also uses it as a reference, and the church helps us by making it the first reading of the lifting up of the serpents in the dessert by God’s instructions to ward off the other serpents that are there. So when Jesus is lifted up on the cross, it’s the time he’s lifted up in glory to liberate us. All these symbols come together.
M: The seraph was about healing, and so is the crucifixion.
A: On Wednesday, Jesus talks to the Jews who believed in him, and says “if you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. It’s one of those things you can walk around in throughout the day. Lord, I just want your truth to set me free. I just want to remain in your word. It’s a great Greek word in John’s gospel, meno, and it’s all the places he means remain, make your home, abide in me, in my father’s house there are many abodes, stay with me, that whole sense of being with Jesus is just wonderful in this gospel when we listen.
M: And when he says this to the Jews who believe in him, and they don’t understand. They say, “What do you mean, set us free? We’ve never been slaves”.
A: “Our father is Abraham”.
M: They don’t understand how, just as we don’t always understand how we’ve been enslaved and how to free our lives, and I think this would be a great thing to ask for. “Dear Jesus, help me to see how I can free up my life, how I can live my life more closely to yours, how I can serve you better by being more free.
A: And doing the works that God wants us to do, rather than our own works. By Thursday, we face in the Gospel, Jesus saying now to all the people, “I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death”. It’s that promise of intimacy of life and connection, and all he wants us to do is keep his word. They say “now we’re sure you’re possessed! Abraham died, so did the prophets, yet you say whoever keeps my word will never taste death”. Just like so much of John’s Gospel, they misunderstand what he’s talking about.
M: And they trap him, and so the Gospel ends when Jesus says, “Amen, Amen I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I am.
A: We can ask ourselves this week, do I really want the gift of everlasting life? Or do I just assume that’s part of the deal, I do what I do in this life, and God sort of has to give me everlasting life. Is there some sense in which I understand it’s a gift during this Lenten period? I look up at that Crucifix in my home, and I say, “Lord I really do desire to receive this gift and let it be a part of my life”.
M: On Friday, one week before Good Friday, the readings are really wonderful. You get the reading from Jeremiah, “I hear whisperings of many, terror on every side. Denounce him! Let us denounce him”. You get the sense that there is this growing plot against Jesus, that’s of course why the people that put the liturgy together put these in there. In John’s Gospel, it begins. The Jews pick up rocks to stone Jesus. It’s a continuation of yesterday’s Gospel. They say to him, “you are a man making yourself God”. Jesus says, “is it not written in your law, you are Gods”, he kind of plays with them a little bit, they’re still not understanding. Jesus says, “even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father”.
A: And he went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Again, that same word. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true”, and many there began to believe in him. During this Lenten journey, all we’re being asked to do is to believe in him, to surrender, to let him be our guide, not to be so dependently apart from him, and he promises that will be a rich reward.
M: And as we get to the Saturday before Passion Sunday, again, we see really the beginning of the final week of the readings. It’s the politics, it is how are we going to condemn Jesus, how are we going to eventually kill him. And Caiaphus, the high priest, says “Don’t you know, it’s better that one man should die instead of the people, so that this whole nation doesn’t perish.
A: This is their murder plot, and their justification for it. And of course, throughout John’s Gospel, John teaches us this good news through irony, or misunderstandings. As a matter of fact, Jesus will die for us all. Not to liberate the nation of Israel, but for all of us, all human kind, and it is for me. It is for us. And to hear that in the mouth of Caiaphus, the high priest, on this Saturday before Passion Sunday is very powerful and if we get into it, that helps us get into the rhythm of what’s to happen ahead in holy week.
M: If we can just take a little time this week, in this time before Holy Week, and maybe just read the Gospels every day or read the scripture readings, it only takes a few minutes, and yet it’s something we can carry with us throughout the day.
A: And if there’s any opportunity to even do this in a missile of missilette, the entrance antiphon for Saturday that helps us make this turn to Holy Week is from some Psalm 22: “Lord, do not stay away. Come quickly to help me. I am a worm, and no man. Men scorn me. People despise me”. This is Psalm 22 and this is the one Matthew uses in his Passion to put those words in the mouth of Jesus. And Psalm 22 ends up being a Psalm of trust and praise of God.
M: So as we come to the end of this week, and we look toward Holy Week, we can just ask Jesus to enter into our lives; Give us the courage to stay with him next week, in the Passion, and this week, to open our hearts. Let us begin Lent this week if we haven’t yet. It’s not too late. It takes God an instant to have love and compassion for us; that love and compassion is always there, but it takes only an instant for us to feel it.
A: And two ways we can examine our conscience: “How am I treating other people? Am I entering a holy space in my life? Am I with my family, planning to together, enter this holy space”? And secondly, the other question is, “How am I caring for the poor”? Am I making plans to be generous out of the gratitude I feel these days, to live in solidarity, so that when we stand at the foot of the cross, we realize that we are there with all the other sinners in the world, all the poor of the world, and it renews our sense of gratitude. We can ask for these graces boldly and freely this week, and let’s keep each other in prayer.