Readings of the day: RB 39 The Amount of Food to be Available
Mass: Jr 31:31-34; Resp Ps 51; Heb 5:7-9; Jn 12:20-33
For Year A: Ezk 37:12-14; Resp Ps 130; Rm 8:8-11; Jn 11:1-45
Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord;
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
(Verse before the Gospel, Mass)
I was writing to someone recently that this season of Lent was offering surprises in my life, something that seems to happen every year around this time. My experience is I am faced with ‘situations’ calling for conversion of heart. These things can’t be planned, nor are they things I can set out to do or accomplish as written on my Bona Opera sheet. Unexpected situations or encounters present themselves when I am not ready. Have you had similar experiences?
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says: ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat.’ Jesus calls us to not just remain a grain of wheat, or, in other words, be stuck in our ways of thinking and doing. ‘But if the grain dies’, Jesus continues, ‘it produces much fruit.’ To follow Jesus, we must die to self—die to those things that keep us in stuck patterns of behavior that diminish us as children of God. At the same time, we are called to be open to surprises that come our way—surprises as calls for change of heart. We might find ourselves out of sorts yet maybe that is what we need to undergo change. Possibly we are ‘troubled’ and anxious about things and/or people. Let us remind ourselves: Jesus was troubled too. Did he ask His Father to save Him? No. This is the purpose for which Jesus came. Jesus paved the way for us and took our troubles with His to the Cross; Jesus lifts us up with Him. Jesus calls us to serve Him and follow Him to the Cross as we carry our crosses of Lenten surprises, troubles, fears, and anxieties. The Father will honor whoever serves His Son in this way. In fact, we will not die, we will be set free to live, love, and produce much fruit. A most fitting acclamation comes to mind:
SAVE US, SAVIOR OF THE WORLD,
FOR BY YOUR CROSS AND RESURRECTION YOU HAVE SET US FREE.
Jesus made himself like the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies to give life.
Our hope springs from that love-filled life.
(Pope Francis, Twitter, March 18, 2018)