Reading the Bible in a year while at the same time living in a liturgical tradition means that there will be moments-like this one today-in which we find ourselves by necessity to be of two minds. One mind is in the texts assigned for the day: Joshua, Psalms and John. The other is wrapped up in the events of just past in Holy Week, suspended in the grief of Holy Saturday and looking toward the hearing of scripture at the Great Vigil tonight. In that respect, though we are experiencing Jesus in John at the outset of the Gospel and at the top of his game as teacher, healer and rabbi I find myself reading these passages as if they were old photos, memories pulled down from a shelf that I use to remind myself of someone I love who has passed.
"Do you remember that time? You know, when we were in Samaria at that well. We had left the Master to go into town and get some food. When we came back, there was that strange woman-really, who goes for water at midday?-and her face was glowing. It was that glow we have seen so many times in the faces of people who met him, who were healed. What was supposed to be just a 'passing-by' turned into a long visit. He taught, and it was amazing how many of those Samaritans found it easy to believe in the kingdom when the people in Jerusalem seemed to struggle so..."
"...or that time when we had returned to Galilee? That ruler from the synagogue, the one who never seemed to have time for us before? His son was sick, dying...and he came up with hat in hand to ask the Master's help. The Master sent him home, telling him that belief was the key to life. I wish we could have been there to see the man's face when he found his son well. What a change in him! Remember?"
As so often happens when we reminisce on the memory of those we have lost, our hearts soften and there are tears, even through smiles of fond reflection.
For today, my heart is heavy....even as we await the new fire of the Great Vigil...and the joy of Easter celebrations. Now is a time to sit in quiet reflection, remembering that there was a time when Jesus was not with us. Today, for a time, he again lies in the tomb. Today, for a time, we remember and mourn.