Once again, our

GOSPEL READING [JOHN 11: 1 – 45] brings us face to face with a challenge to faith in the PERSON of Jesus Christ. Also, we are able to spot the similarities between Jesus’ encounters and conversations with the Samaritan woman, the man born blind and Martha. In each case we have the Lord in conversation with an individual person. We need to ‘translate’ all three conversations into personal encounters between Jesus and each one of us as individuals. {Here recall the reflection for the Third Lenten Sunday where we emphasised the importance of developing the habit of heart-to-heart conversations / exchanges with the Lord.}

I use the word translate deliberately because to merely ‘transfer’ or ‘apply’ them easily lets us off the hook. When we translate, we not only attempt to understand literally but to put it into language which speaks to us personally.

So we could, with profit, translate for ourselves as individuals each of the individual responses given by the individuals who engaged in conversation with the Lord as recorded in the Gospels of this week and the previous two Sundays.

Firstly

, the Samaritan woman recognises and accepts that Jesus is the MESSIAH. Have I truly translated this truth of Christianity into my own life of faith? Do I genuinely and personally see and accept him as the anointed one sent by the Father to RESTORE ALL PERSONS AND THINGS TO GOD – NOT ONLY AT THE END OF TIME BUT IN THE HERE AND NOW? Like the woman at the Well do I hear the Lord Jesus as he tells me, “Iwho speak to you am he.” Do I, perhaps, need to update my personal translation of this fact?

Secondly

, and in many ways the most important, what is my personal translation of the Gospel facts presented to me by Jesus’ encounter with the man born blind? What about his obedience to the order to go and wash out his eyes? We are told that he was a beggar – the very bottom of the socially acceptable. Yet, the record of his encounter with the Lord tells us that he was streetwise and thus able to see through the prevarications of the Pharisees. He simply stuck unshakeably to the essentials – he was clear and adamant about the facts, all the peripheries did not interest him in any way and he was able to speak for himself about the basic facts. Am I more interested in the peripheries of my faith-practice than the essentials, those things that really matter? Am I able to recognise and distinguish between the essentials and the margins? Do I believe, in mind and heart, that Jesus is the essential – that Jesus Christ is “from God?” Do I really worship him and express this in the way I share and participate in the Liturgy? Finally, do I recognise Jesus as “the Son of man?” In other words, accept that Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, continues to be an essential part of my life in the present – my life as well as the life of the world in which I live? “Do you believe in the Son of man?”

Thirdly

, I must translate into my personal faith and life Martha’s quite sublime profession of faith – “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.” See the development of faith as presented to us in the three Gospel encounters on which we have focussed. They begin with “Messiah“, evolve into “Son of man“, and reach the climax in “the Christ, the Son of God.” Indeed the “coming into the world” involves all three – the Messiah is able to bring the message of God, the Son of man, like the man both blind, belongs to our world and is streetwise but he is alsoof God, not only of man.

Like last week’s reflection we are able to end with our Gospel extract. There we need to focus on another very simple and direct phrase. “Unbind him and let him go.” Here I prefer the translation which renders the words let him go and set him free.

Before we arrive at Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week, we really should be

FREE! If nothing else, the last three Gospels in which we have encountered Jesus indicate the one basic essential of our Christian faith – THE CENTRALITY OF CHRIST. This is what we desperately need to translate into our personal life of faith. All other devotions, pious activities (no matter how good they may be) pale into matters of peripheral value in the face of the Messiah, Son of man, and Son of God. It is this ‘face’ which must be the overriding focus of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. This is what I must translate for myself – and my translation needs to be in a language which I personally speak and understand.

 

So, this week let us start serious work on our translations. Unbind him and set him free!? In the final analysis only I am able to set myself free.

 

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