Fourth Sunday of
Lent—14 March AD 2021
for Spiritual Fever”
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Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Saint John's Gospel - Chapter vi
Today would be
a good day to speak about the Blessed Sacrament. The Gospel, as we say,
“pre-figures” the way in which our Lord would make the substance of His
Body and Blood present to thousands and even millions of people
throughout the world under the appearances of bread and wine. The event
took place during the Passover, one year before the Last Supper.
It was the
occasion on which our Lord promised that He would give us His Body and
Blood; and told us that it was necessary for us to eat and drink Them if
we were have the life of God within us. It is also quite clear from this
account that our Lord meant that the Blessed Sacrament would be more
than a symbol; that it would really and truly be His actual Body and
Blood. Even then there were people who doubted Him—disciples who left
Him; contradicting this idea of the Real Presence—and our Lord had to
simply let them go. He didn't call them back to say that He didn't mean
what He said, because He did mean it.
But, you can
read the entire account for yourself in the 6th chapter of Saint John's
Gospel—and I would like to ask you to do just that—it's only one short
chapter, but well worth reading.
The reason I am
not going to talk more about the Blessed Sacrament is that two of this
past week's Gospels caught my attention, and I thought that I should
share them with you. The first, from Thursday, is Saint Luke’s account
of our Lord healing Saint Peter’s mother-in-law from a serious fever.
The second, from Friday, is about our Lord meeting a Samaritan woman at
a well and promising to give her “living water.”
glance, the healing of Saint Peter’s mother-in-law doesn’t seem unusual.
We read in the Gospels that our Lord healed a great many people, and
it's not too surprising that He would have taken special care of the
family members of His close disciples. [He may have been softening up
Peter's wife, so that she would let Him out of the house to preach the
Gospel to all nations.] In the time of our Lord, without modern
medicine, a fever might actually prove fatal. So this was a great
the 5th century archbishop of Milan, says that the fever can also be
thought of in a symbolic sense. He writes that we are often afflicted
with spiritual fevers -- that we sometimes find ourselves burning up
with fevers like lust, and greed, and hatred, and intemperance, and
other such passions—and, that of our own, we are unable to cure these
fevers. Our intentions, and our fasting, and our self-discipline are
good, but they are not enough. Just like Peter's mother-in-law, we
require our Lord's help to overcome our fevers. And that help—the
“living water” that would quench the spiritual fevers and bring
everlasting life—was what our Lord promised the Samaritan woman at the
well in Friday's Gospel.
Samaritans were outcasts, and good Jews wouldn't have anything to do
with them. And this particular lady was a sinner—she’d been through five
husbands and was on her sixth, and he wasn't really her husband anyway.
But the scripture implies that this meeting with our Lord converted her.
In fact, not only did it convert her, but it made her a disciple,
preaching about Jesus to her Samaritan friends.
“living water” that He promised to her is available to all of us.
Figuratively, it is the stream of water that came forth out of His side,
pouring out of His Sacred Heart, opened by the soldier's lance, as He
hung on the Cross. Literally, it is prayer and the Sacraments. For only
with these can we hope to extinguish our passions, to cool our spiritual
fevers, and to go on doing the will of God.
We need to
unite our will with God's will in prayer. It is absolutely essential
that we obtain Sanctifying grace through Baptism—that we nourish this
grace through Holy Communion—that we restore it by a good Confession if
we should lose it—that we augment this grace throughout our lives by
receiving the other Sacraments at the appropriate times.
Finally, in the
same Gospel, our Lord speaks of having nourishment from a food that even
His disciples didn't know about. And, He says that “that food is to do
the will of He who sent Him, and to accomplish His work.” And, likewise,
that food is available to us. There has to be a practical dimension to
our Faith—which starts with, but goes beyond prayer and the Sacraments.
We can be nourished by doing God's will and furthering His work in this
Gospels, then, are a rich source of instruction for us:
ourselves, we are often unable to cure the fevers which arise from human
passion. But our Lord has given us “living water,” a stream of love from
His Sacred Heart.
C. And we
must go down and drink from that sacred stream of prayers and
Sacraments—and likewise, we must eat the food of doing God's will and
resolve to put some time aside—every year—to read that Sixth Chapter of
Saint John’s Gospel.