Catholic Contemplative Affiliation

Weekday Readings




Fifth Week of Lent, March 30 - April 4, 2020

John 8.1-11
Scripture scholars don't know where to place this section of John’s Gospel.  Does it belong in John's Gospel or in Luke's?  But in itself it remains God's Word.  This Gospel Reading is a powerful witness to God’s forgiveness that follows upon true repentance.  In this simple narrative Jesus brings us to the center of God's compassion.  In Jesus there is now no condemnation for those who are broken-hearted because of their sins.  In Jesus there is the power to overcome sin.  “Sin no more.”  Jesus has the power to forgive sins and to enable us ultimately to be free from the effects of sin.  Lent is our struggle to enter into that mystery of redemption from sin.  The redemption is won by Christ's death and resurrection.  We identify with the woman taken in adultery: we lie at the feet of Jesus, indeed worthy of condemnation, but expecting compassion.  There are no others around.  We see the absoluteness of that moment wherein we take responsibility for our sins and then receive forgiveness and new life free of the sins that had enslaved us.  It is at the heart of the Paschal mystery.
(In Cycle C, in place of this Gospel, John 8:12-20 is read)
John 8.21-30
Like the people in today’s Gospel  we may be not fully aware that in our prayer Jesus speaks to us of his Father.  More than speaking about the Father, Jesus reveals the Father in the depths of our prayer in the Holy Spirit.  Our prayer is to complete the Trinitarian cycle.  In grace we have come forth from the Father and we return to the Father.  The light of revelation reveals the ontological reality of our abiding in the Father in Christ’s grace.  In its most absolute simplicity prayer is silent adoration before, and within, the Mystery of the Trinity and our receptive surrender to the Spirit's love.  Our prayer is this silent  consenting to being in the Father, now in faith, in a sense unknowing, soon in light at the resurrection, but this eternal “abiding with” has already begun, Sin places us outside of this abiding; attachment to the culture of the world may diminish sensitivity to the Trinitarian life.  Lord Jesus, you are He—the “I Am”—, Son with the Father in the Holy Spirit.  Every breath is my Amen to that naked intention of love.
John 8.31-42
Let us look at the first few words of verse 31.  "If you live according to my teaching" misses the meaning I think.  RSV translation has it better: "If you continue in my word."  The Latin translated closely from the Greek, has "Si vos manseritis in sermone meo."  That word manseritis has the idea of living in, abiding with; mansion is a derivative in English.  It is not just a living by, a sort of moral or behavioral connotation.  Rather, we live in the Word; we live with the Word; we abide with the Word.  We would be disciples of Jesus.  That is the ethos of our prayer: to be immersed in Jesus.  We do that by the power of the Holy Spirit who uses the words of Scripture to penetrate into the very core of our selves.  We abide with Jesus by abiding in the fullness of the Church.  In this ecclesial discipleship we find freedom.  In this freedom of the Spirit we find Jesus, who is Truth, the Incarnate Word.  Truth and freedom end in the Trinitarian life.  "I proceeded and came forth from God; he sent me."  It is not a mere prophet whose word we embrace.  It is the Word Himself who is in the bosom of the Father, the Word who pitched his tent among us, so that we can be able to abide there, live there with the Word Incarnate.  Prayer consists of the moments of conscious consent to this abiding in the Word within the Father through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
John 8.51-59
Many have kept Christ's word and yet have experienced death.  We will also experience death. But they and we will not see death.  On passing through death we will see Christ who is life; we will not see our death.  We will wake to a particular judgment and then in grace to eternal light in the mystery of Christ—this is our hope.  We will know the certainty of our own resurrection in the body and the sight of God's glory in the risen Christ.  Death is pure nothingness; Christ is eternal existence and light.  Jesus is the great "I Am."  Our own person is destined for divine glory because of Jesus being the Son of Man and the Son of the Father.  “Before Abraham, I am.”  Our prayer is keeping the word of Christ.  Our prayer is living in the word as in a house.  Our prayer is the constant surrender to the Presence of the Triune God in the mystery of the incarnate Son.  The fruit of our prayer is experiencing divine life through grace.  “In Him was the light of life.”  Our prayer is a joy, sharing the laughter of Sarah and the joy of Abraham.  They were happy to see our day.
John 10.31-42
At this moment Jesus continues his work.  I am his work.  Prayer is the silent awareness of the work of Christ in us.  My deepest moments of prayer come in that silence and receptivity wherein with all my being I surrender to this work.  The work is Trinitarian.  The Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father, and in the unity of the Holy Spirit.  God works in me as member of the Church.  All my prayer is Trinitarian and Ecclesial.  The Church is the eternal, spotless witness to the fullness of Christ at any given moment, in any given place, amid any given culture or civilization, not because of the effectiveness of its members, but because Christ is the Head of his Body, the Church.  These latter traits are of the Church's Catholicism.  How many peoples, how many struggles, how many persons in their individual dramas of redemption, do I carry in the simplicity of my love expressed in silent prayer?  My prayer is sharing in the consecration of the Son sent into the world.  I am a consecrated person by my Baptism.  My consecration is living membership in the Church.  My consecration is into the Church, the whole Body of Christ.  Christ redeems humanity through the sacrament of the Church.
John 11.45-57
Lent is closing; Passiontide is upon us.  It is the time of a deeper entering into the dying of Jesus, the emptying that must accompany true contemplative prayer life.  Many believe in Jesus because they see signs.  Looking for signs is a foundation of sand for a spiritual house.  As I grow deeper in my prayer, so I must relinquish the desire for signs.  It is the old magic trip that plagues me.  The temptation is to pray and follow the spiritual path to fulfill my own agenda and to see results in my life.  The temptation against Christ’s light is to hold to my own idealized image of perfection.  Or, I remain divided.  I have one eye on Jesus and an ear to what my culture says about Jesus.  I want to remain friends with the enlightened of society.  I am like the ones in the Gospel who see the glory of Lazarus resuscitated but also want to be in with the ruling class.  Some see the sign but must report everything to the Pharisees.  No, allow me to surrender in absolute faith.  “Let me enter into your dying, Lord Jesus, You, the One who dies so to gather into one the dispersed children of humanity.”  My prayer must be beyond signs; it must be singularly directed into the heart of the Trinity in pure faith and hope.  In that prayer I embrace the whole of humanity in the work of redemption.

 --William Fredrickson, Obl. Sec. OSB, D.Min.


For questions, comments or other communication, please contact:
William Fredrickson