Looking Ahead to the 5th Sunday – for a change…
Four Mini-Retreats for the Fifth Sunday of Lent
The Fifth Sunday of Lent invites us to reflect on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and give thanks and praise to God who opens a path for us to new life. Four passages from the day call us to reflect on the mystery of God’s love already abiding in our woundedness.
- In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death [and didn’t], and he was heard because of his reverence [and did]. [my additions]
Hebrews chapter five, for me anyway, depicts the mystery of divine love in its fullest: a) Love is the most potent force in the universe; it brings the dead to life. b) Yet, divine Love is the weakest force in the universe, because it does not manipulate things for its own good.
2. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
He was made perfect, complete, rounded-off, fulfilled. The Greek verb, teleíoõ, suggests a sculpture by Michelangelo, for example, that is perfectly complete. Nothing more could be added or taken away.
3. 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.
What does ‘the grain of wheat dying to produce much fruit’ have to do with hating one’s life in this world? John’s use of “world” points to all that skulks about in the night, hidden from one’s sight, hoping God doesn’t see. It has to do with those things that we reject in ourselves and others that we all balk at bringing into the Light, fearing exposure, judgment, and condemnation. Hating this life, that is, what we hide can lead us to walk into the Light to be seen.
4. 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.
Judgment, victory, lifting up, draw all, and death – key notions in John. Here’s the hard part, I believe: Jesus lifted upon the cross draws everyone for two reasons – a) to behold how we made him and make others today pay the price for not walking into the Light; and b) to behold divine Love unconquerable welcoming us. The “hour the Son of Man is glorified” is when Jesus dies on the cross. The glorifications occurs in us as we recognize how our complicity in his death is met with eternal Mercy.
Let us continue to seek Christ in the mystery of our human vulnerability as we approach the Easter feasts!