Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009 ~ Fifth Sunday in Lent

Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).

John 12:20-33

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast
came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee,
and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus."
Philip went and told Andrew;
then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Jesus answered them,
"The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.
"I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?
'Father, save me from this hour'?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name."
Then a voice came from heaven,
"I have glorified it and will glorify it again."
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder;
but others said, "An angel has spoken to him."
Jesus answered and said,
"This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself."
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.


Jesus speaks here of the Cross. His words are clear. We must follow Him and do the same as Him...die. We must die to bear fruit.

This world does not understand that. It is indeed a challenging message. Most fear death, and many for good reason. They are not living in Christ. They are living for themselves.

Our American culture is so self-centered that I am amazed. I should not be surprised anymore, but I still am. People are not willing to sacrifice for another unless it happens to also bring about personal gain. We are told to "pay it forward," because a kindness has been granted us. The Lord teaches us to be kind even when others are not kind to us, to offer everything for God, even, perhaps even especially, if it leads to humiliation and pain.

If you have not yet taken time this Lent to ponder the Cross, take some time now. Imagine the Cross, standing against the darkened sky on the top of Calvary. Jesus is hanging from it by nails in his hands and feet. His flesh is torn. He is bleeding. He has been bleeding for hours. Some of the blood is dried and caked with mud. He is clearly in agony, pain beyond compare, and you can see that on His face. It is not a pretty sight. Most want to turn their eyes away from the sight.

Yet, it is the sight of God's glory. It is how the power of God was most clearly revealed to all people. In many cultures and churches, crucifixes have no blood, just marks where the wounds of Christ would be. In Protestant churches, Jesus is removed from the Cross altogether. Through these actions, we inadvertently make the Cross a pleasant thing to gaze upon, which it was not and is not.

And, He calls us in this Gospel to do the same as He. He, He expects us to fall to the ground and die to ourselves, so that He can create us anew. What suffering is in my life? I do not face some terrible disease or illness. My family is beautiful and whole and healthy. The crosses I face are tiny, insignificant when compared to others, but Christ does not ask us to compare our suffering to others'. He asks us to bear it with Him.

We should adore Christ's bloody body. We should gaze upon His crown of thorns with adoration. We should embrace the life and the death He chose to teach us all how to live and how to die. Do not hesitate. Go to the Cross today, meditate on the death of Jesus and once again, die to yourself. Offer everything to Him; hold nothing back. For only then, will we bear great fruit in this world or possibly not even until the next life.

Lord Jesus, help me to adore your Cross in all of its glory and all of its pain. Give me the courage to lay down everything at your feet, to keep nothing for myself. Let me lie down on the wooden beams with you and be transformed through death to myself. Make me a new person, so I might better glorify my God, my Lord and Savior, the broken, beaten body of Jesus Christ.

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