Homily for the 5th Sunday of lent - 2020
“U” A grain of wheat must first fall and die to bring a good harvest”
Dearly beloved, as we celebrate the 5th Sunday of Lent, we are reminded of how close we are to our destination. Our destination towards the great festivities of Easter. This fact is reflected in all the readings of this Sunday. Christ is ready to offer everything for our salvation. So, we too must be willing to offer all for Him and for others.
Today’s Gospel reading is taken from the Gospel of John. We are reading much further into John’s Gospel than we have for the past two weeks. Chapter 12 of John’s Gospel is a preparation for the beginning of the passion narrative to follow. Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead—an important sign in John’s Gospel, which inspired many people to believe in Jesus. This event also marks the turning point in Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish authorities. John’s Gospel tells us that the Sanhedrin met after this event and made plans to kill Jesus. In the 12th chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus is anointed at Bethany and enters Jerusalem in triumph. We again see evidence of the significance of the raising of Lazarus to this event; John reports that the crowds also gathered to see Lazarus.
Following His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus predicted his suffering, death, and Resurrection and prepared His disciples to believe in the salvation that His death would accomplish. Using the metaphor of the grain of wheat, Jesus presented the idea that His dying would be beneficial. He also taught that those who would be His disciples must follow his example of sacrifice. This theme will be repeated in John’s account of the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples as an example of how they must serve one another.
We learn another great example from this reading that; A TRUE CHRISTIAN DOES NOT SEEK HIS OR HER OWN COMFORT AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS. Salt gives its taste by dissolving in water. A candle gives light by burning its wick and melting its own wax. We gain eternal life only through self-suffering and death FOR others. “We make a living through what we get but we make a life by what we give” (Winston Churchill).
Every one values their own comfort, and rightly so. All humans possess the instinct of self-preservation, and any resistance to harm is natural to our nature. Unaided by grace, it is unimaginable at times, to think of giving up our lives for another, especially those we are not related to. Does it look like Jesus doesn’t have that instinct as a man? Sure, He does. Listen again to the gospel when He admitted “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?. His admission indicates it was not going to be easy, but He was willing to go against the self-preservation human instinct to save us. Does it look like Jesus enjoyed suffering? NO, no one loves to suffer, but Jesus accepted willingly to suffer because He loves us and valued our salvation more than His own life.
It is always absurd to hear from scripture that we should be willing to lose our lives if we love it; however, this is the absolute truth about our Christian life and calling. This is what defines the Christian life and experience, without which the Christian life is vague and empty. If there is anything that distinguishes a worldly person and a Christian, it is the ability to offer oneself, taking the risk of one’s life at stake to save another, to deny and deprive oneself of one’s comfort and pleasure to make the life of others better.
Have you ever risked your life for another? Have you ever deprived yourself of some comfort to help another? Maximillian Kolbe followed the footsteps of Christ when he volunteered to die in place of another man. Do we still have leaders who deny themselves comfort to build their nations? Do we still have people willing to donate organs of the body like the kidney to save the life of another? Many in the past and today continue on this path of self-sacrifice. Parents go hungry to feed their children. They will starve to send them to school.
We need to rediscover who we are. Christ’s death for us on the cross will be meaningless if we cannot accept the slightest inconvenience to accommodate others. If we cannot make sacrifices for the sake of making a better life for others, even a better life than our very own lives. We need to step out of our comfort zone to discover thousands whose lives we can change by our personal sacrifices. We have to voluntarily embrace suffering to achieve a higher good in society. WE CAN TRANFORM THE WORLD BY OUR SINCERE SACRIFICES AND SERVICES. The things that go wrong today are going because some with the opportunity to make sacrifices are not willing to do so. When we suffer in pursuit of a worthy cause of action, we come out as better people, we touch lives and we can transform the world. We become human and not just persons in existence. We give Christ-like meaning to the nature of what God intended us to be.
In these last days towards Easter, permit me to request of you to make some effort to not make yourself the center for anything but rather, seek to let others have their way if that will be for their good. Always remember that a life spent in sacrificial offering to God and others will never go unrewarded in this life and the next. May God help us to discover what it takes to be His children. May He increase His grace within us to be ever ready to give up what matters most to us in sacrifice and service to others.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers.