Monday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Isaiah 65:17-21 + John 4:43-54
“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.”
The Fourth Sunday of Lent—sometimes known by the Latin name “Laetare Sunday”—is roughly the mid-point of Lent. Before this mid-point, at the weekday Masses of Lent the Gospel Readings are taken from non-sequential chapters among the first three Gospel accounts. For example, on the first four days of Lent, the Gospel Readings are taken from Matthew 6, Luke 9, Matthew 9, and Luke 5, respectively.
During the Fourth Week of Lent, the respective Gospel Readings are taken from John 4, John 5, John 5, John 5, John 7, and John 7. If you notice a pattern, you see what the Church is up to. In fact, this pattern continues through Monday of Holy Week, when the Gospel Reading is taken from John 12.
How do these chapters—from John 4 to 12—prepare us for the sacred events of Holy Week? Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel Reading offer a clue: “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” Following the prologue of St. John’s Gospel account, the first half of the account is often called “The Book of Signs”. In a better world, where people held stronger faith, signs and wonders would not be needed. But with compassion for our human weakness, Jesus works signs throughout the chapters of John 4 to 12. The signs point to an even greater work that Jesus will accomplish through the Sacred Triduum, which the Lord foretells in today’s First Reading: “Lo, I am about to create new heavens / and a new earth”.