In the second half of Lent, the ancient Authentic Form of the Roman Rite offered three Gospel readings, all from S John. All of them are long; all of them are beautifully crafted and full of the very finest teaching; and are intended primarily for the catechumens preparing for Initiation at Easter. I list them briefly with a few notes about their histories since the 1970s.
The Samaritan Woman. Theme: Living Water. S John Chapter 4. Traditional place: Friday after Lent 3. Novus Ordo place: Sunday Lent 3 in year A.
The Man Born Blind. Theme: Enlightenment. S John Chapter 9. Traditional place: Wednesday after Lent 4. Novus Ordo place: Sunday Lent 4 in year A.
Lazarus. Theme: New Life. S John Chapter 11. Traditional place: Friday after Lent 4. Novus Ordo place: Sunday Lent 5 in year A ('Passion Sunday').
The readings selected to accompany these passages in the Novus Ordo do not show much interest in the Readings associated with these Gospels in the Old Rite.
In the Novus Ordo, they may also be used with their associated readings, in Years B and C. They may also be used, together with their associated readings, on weekdays. Abbreviated selections of verses are authorised.
All three Readings have associated Proper Prefaces; each of which is a highly abbreviated version of a Preface taken from the Appendix which Charlemagne and his academics added to the 'Gregorian Sacramentary'.
Current Anglican English provision copies Rome.
In the ancient Ambrosian Rite, the Sunday Gospels are:
Lent 2: The Samaritan Woman.
Lent 3: Abraham (John 8:31-end).
Lent 4: The Man Born Blind.
Lent 5: Lazarus.
In the Byzantine Rite, Lazarus is read on the Saturday before Palm Sunday; the Samaritan Woman and the Man Born Blind occupy Sundays in the period after Easter.
C S Lewis, a Literature Man, and E L Mascall, a Mathematician, both commented on the literary form of these pasages: almost 'modern novelistic'; 'vivid' (Mascall rendered the Man Born Blind into Cockney). Lewis observed that he had been studying literature, ancient, medieval, and modern, for yonks years and had never come across stylistic parallels. Both scholars treated with abrasive and merited contempt the reductive views of self-styled 'modern biblical experts'.
These three majestic Johannine narratives deserve respect and also deserve close attention.