5TH SUNDAY OF LENT B 2012
What does it mean for us to journey through Lent and prepare to renew our Baptismal promises? It is the fulfilment of the promise of Jeremiah in our first reading today! Jeremiah looked forward to the day when God would send his Spirit into our hearts and create a new covenant. Where the law of God would not be in some book but written on the hearts. Jeremiah yearned for the day when people would no longer just strive to meet the minimal requirements of some law that was foreign to them, outside of them, but attentive to the voice of God in everything. The goal of Lent and of all Christian living is voiced by the Greeks: “We would like to see Jesus.” We truly “see” Jesus when we are faithful to his law written on our hearts.
This is his “law”: become the seed that dies, the life that loses itself, and the servant who follows.
Jesus speaks about “his hour”. Jesus himself begins the discourse by saying that the hour has come for him to be glorified. Then he goes on to speak of the seed dying. It is in his being lifted up, it is in his free laying down of his life that Christ is glorified and God is glorified in his Son.
Jesus’ prayer was “heard.” Did Jesus receive what he pleaded for? Was it answered? Nothing is promised — no release from the anxiety, no easing of the pain, no rescue from death, no assurance of happiness. Only communion with the Father. This was critical because it enabled Jesus to realize that he was not alone. Amid the anxiety, pain and suffering, he was aware in his humanity that God was near and that the strength of God’s grace was his.
In Jesus’ experience, believers can learn a lesson that will help them in their own struggles with suffering. While we might pray for a way out of the struggle, perhaps it is within that very struggle that God becomes uniquely present and powerful. Then, suffering isn’t just an obstacle to surmount or an inconvenience to be avoided, but an opportunity for deeper communion with God.
As a result of all he suffered, “Jesus was made perfect” (v. 10). “To be made perfect” is to accomplish the goal for which you were born. Do you know the special purpose for which you were called into being? Jesus’ awareness of his purpose in life and ours, evolves gradually. As he lived his human life and exercised his ministry in accord with what he was convinced was God’s plan for him, it became clearer and clearer to Jesus that his faith and commitment would bring him into confrontation with the religious and political powers of his day. Surely he knew that he would pay the ultimate price for his obedience to God. “The hour has come.”
When we struggle with dying to self, we are in good company: Jesus himself was “troubled” by this, horrified and cried out to be delivered from it. Jesus’ prayer reveals his fear in regard to his “hour.”
Jesus saw no way to avoid it without being unfaithful to the mission entrusted to him by his Father. If we listen in prayer to the love of Christ that has been planted in us, we will be led to the radical truth that Christ taught and lived: "Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also."
On this Third World Solidarity Day we are invited by the Word written on our hearts to die to self in order that the grain can produce a hundredfold. The theme this year is "Help a just world to take root!”. Ecological Justice can help a just world take root. Ecology teaches us that all parts of the earth-system are interconnected and deeply affect one another.
Michael Morwood reflects on this as he says: “Jesus so appreciated the kingdom of heaven right before him and manifested gratitude in the very way he looked at the lilies of the field, the birds of the air, people. I see him inviting me to manifest wonder and appreciation in my own life. Here and now in the 21st century I can marvel at the way atoms and stardust are transformed into the life form we are. I imagine Jesus saying to me, “Michael, the human enterprise and the universe in which it has come to be is God-charged. You not only give the universe a way of manifesting itself, you give God, the Ground of all Being, a way of coming to expression. That is what it means to be human. To express the qualities of God: love, beauty, harmony, goodness, peace. Take in this good news about yourself and everyone else, and see. See everything around you with the eye of your soul. See the music of life!”
“…Jesus embodied the Divine Presence in human form. When I bring his story to the scientific story about our human origins and how life evolved on Earth, I’m led to a new awareness and appreciation of the Divine Presence all around me, a love that bonds all that exists. ..He (Jesus) wanted people to see what he saw: people giving human expression to the Divine in their living and loving.”
All life is interconnected and interdependent.
Development and Peace is focusing on ways that people can live in greater harmony according to God’s creative designs. We need to learn to die to our wants which push us to bite the hand that feeds us. We cannot contradict our nature.
There is so much in the scripture today that compels us to almsgiving. If we listen to the voice within.. to the law of God written on our hearts, we know we must share with others who have so little. If we are obedient to the needs of others as a parent is obedient to the needs of the sick child in the night, we sacrifice our comfort, our rest, our life to tend to the suffering of others. I need to concretely tell God, and myself, that I find my security in life not in what I own but in my solidarity with my brothers and sisters throughout the world and in the promise of resurrection that come through dying to self.