It seems a bit strange that the Church presents us with this gospel reading today on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, it seems to be clearly about the resurrection and yet we haven’t got there yet, we are still plodding through Lent and have to get through Maundy Thursday and Good Friday before we get to the resurrection. What’s going on; have the Church’s liturgical engineers got it all wrong?
In the Gospel of John we often find stories which are not to be found in the Synoptic Gospels. And even though we know that John’s Gospel is considered to have been written later than the others we should not give in to the temptation to think that this old man John has made the story up.
The First Reading and the Gospel on a Sunday are usually related to each other and this Sunday is no exception. Both of these readings are about water. The First Reading is about Moses striking the rock from which flowed water at Massah and Meribah, sufficient to assuage the people’s thirst. In the Gospel we hear the wonderful story of the Woman at the Well.
We have in our readings today two extraordinary religious experiences taking place on the top of mountains. It’s been a while since I was on the top of a high mountain but I remember it as a very exhilarating experience—the height, the thin air, the wind, the sense of achievement after a hard ascent, and the prospect of an easy and rapid descent. And there is the appreciation of beauties of nature in the tremendous view.
Although we speak only figuratively, there is also the sense of being close to heaven. Many people have profound religious experiences on the tops of mountains.
Father Alex McAllister SDS
Parish Priest of
St Thomas à Becket