5th Sunday in Lent Year: B Jer 31.31-34; Ps 50(51); Heb 5.7-9; Jn 12.20-33
You are My Life
There was a boy in India who was sent by his parents to a boarding school. Before being sent away this boy was the brightest student in his class. He was at the top in every competition. He was a champion.
But the boy changed after leaving home and attending the boarding school. His grades started dropping. He hated being in a group. He was lonely all the time. And there were especially dark times when he felt like committing suicide. All of this because he felt worthless and that no one loved him.
His parents started worrying about the boy. But even they did not know what was wrong with him. So his dad decided to travel to the boarding school and talk with him.
They sat on the bank of the lake near the school. The father started asking him casual questions about his classes, teachers and sports. After some time his dad said, 'Do you know son, why I am here today?"
The boy answered back, "to check my grades?"
"No, no" his dad replied, "I am here to tell you that you are the most important person for me. I want to see you happy. I don't care about grades. I care about you. I care about your happiness. YOU ARE MY LIFE."
These words caused the boy's eyes to fill with tears. He hugged his dad. They didn't say anything to each other for a long time.
Now the boy had everything he wanted. He knew there was someone on this earth who cared for him deeply. He meant the world to someone. And today this young man is in college at the top of his class and no one has ever seen him sad! Thanks a lot dad. YOU ARE MY LIFE.
What Was Jesus’ Passion?
Today is Passion Sunday. A week before Palm Sunday our readings focus on the passion of Jesus. What was Jesus passion? What was the driving force in his life? What was Jesus passionate about? Intense about? Animated over? What gave him sleepless nights? What did he wrestle over in prayer? Let’s find out. I want you to look at John 12.20-33 and notice three aspects to Jesus passion.
The Timing of the Cross (v 23)
Two keys words here - glory and hour. Glory first. This is not the glory of fame but the glory of shame. Not the glory of popularity but the glory of isolation. Glory because it was for us, because it was instead of us. Jesus knew that before the war would be over he must be taken captive. He knew that before victory would come defeat. He knew that before the throne would come the cup. He knew that before the light of Sunday, there must be the darkness of Friday. Before his ascension into heaven there must be a descent into hell. At the very moment when the crowds of people were cheering, smiling and waving their palm branches on Palm Sunday, Jesus was in agony. On the hill side half way down the Mount of Olives is the chapel known as Dominus Flevit. It’s the place where the Lord wept. It is a favourite spot in all of Palestine.
Why was Jesus in agony? This was his glory. His hour. The hour to which every word and every act in Scripture pointed. Jesus was in agony because he knew from eternity past that this was indeed the time for the Cross. His passion announced.
The Necessity of the Cross (v 24-26)
Each little grain of wheat has a hard, glossy husk, within which its life is contained. But if it falls into the ground then its husk softens and rots and breaks open. From inside the seed the power of its life begins to push outwards. The pattern of its life begins to unfold. Roots go down into the soil. A shoot comes up into the light where it grows stronger and taller and produces a single ear of corn. By harvest time there will be forty seeds where before there was only one. Next year if those forty seeds all fall on good soil they will produce sixteen hundred seeds. In the third year sixty-four thousand. In the fourth year over two and a half million. But only if that first seed falls to the ground and dies. So it is that Jesus offers bread to the whole world. He offers himself, his life, to come alive in hundreds, then thousands, then millions of others. But first he must die.
And if we his followers wish to pass on his life then we too must learn the pattern of life. We will bear fruit only when we die to self. God has given each one of us a passion. A unique combination of personality, experience and spiritual gifting. Therefore our place of service in the church is unique and irreplaceable.
The Purpose of the Cross (v 27-33)
Martin Luther said once, "No one ever feared death as much as this man." The Son was troubled and Heaven answered. God in heaven could not keep silence; Heaven answered the Son's prayer with an articulate voice. It was agony for Jesus to do the will of his Father. It was agony for Jesus to bring glory to his Father. It was agony for Jesus to drive out the prince of this world. It was agony for Jesus to draw all men to himself. But there was no other way. No other way. When you come face to face with a person in difficulty remind yourself of this picture.
The Seed Must Die
Christians are not protected from pain. We have no insurance policy against agony. Sorrow can burn up a great deal of shallowness or it can lead to bitterness. It all depends on our perspective; it all depends on our motive. Jesus was not saved from the hour. He was saved for it. And so are we. One of my favourite books in the Old Testament is Esther. It might be subtitled, "For such a time as this." It comes from the scene where Esther's life is at stake. She must plead for the life of her people before her husband the king. But for anyone including her to enter his presence unannounced could mean instant execution. Just as she was wavering, Mordecai reminds her,
"If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4.14)
This was Jesus hour. The Greek word for judgment means crisis or discrimination. Now was the moment of crisis. The decision day but the world today prefers to be inoffensively neutral. It does not like having to decide.
How different with Jesus. It was judgment time. The Judge was about to take their just upon Himself. Jesus was going to do three things simultaneously by his death.
Jesus was making a decision that changed the course of history for the entire universe. The hour of his destiny and of his death would be like a flash of lightening suddenly illuminating the whole cosmos with God's love.
When Joan of Arc knew that she had been betrayed and was to be burnt at the stake by the leaders of her own people, as George Bernard Shaw has it in his play, she turns to them and says, "I will go out to the common people, and let the love in their eyes comfort me for the hate in yours. You will be glad to see me burnt; but if I go through the fire I shall go through it to their hearts forever and ever."
Jesus said “and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.
Christians are not protected from pain. We have no insurance policy against agony. Sorrow can burn up a great deal of shallowness or it can lead to bitterness. It all depends on our perspective; it all depends on our motive. Jesus was not saved from the hour. He was saved for it. And so are we.
Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD
Vancouver - Canada
Sunday Mass with Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza - For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. [ March 11 2018 ]
Sunday Mass with Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza - For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. [ March 11 2018 ]
4th Sunday Of Lent - John 3:14-21
4th Sunday of Lent Year B
II Chronicles 36.14-17a; 19-23; Psalm 137;
Ephesians 2.4-10; John 3.14-21
The scene of the brazen serpent (in Numbers 21:4-9) immediately makes me recall the serpent in the Garden of Eden. That the Israelites were punished for their thanklessness with deadly biting serpents, and then forced to look upon the image of another serpent to find a cure, makes me think that God was trying to get the Israelites to remember what had transpired in Eden. However, scholarship and archaeology tells us that serpent images were used in ancient Israel, during the time of the unified monarchy, as a symbol of fertility, and that similar images were used in ancient Egypt as a talisman to repel living snakes.
That the Israelites had recently evacuated Egypt, what we may have here is a recollection of Egyptian practice. They were going to ward off the snakes in the same way as their captor Egyptians had done.
If one were going to preach on the brazen serpent, I think this would be a decent place to start—or at least have in the back of one’s mind.
However, when this scene is referenced in the third chapter of the Gospel of John, I don’t think this that this is what Jesus had in mind at all. It has nothing to do with fertility, Egyptian practice, or even the history of the Exodus. It seems that the brazen serpent is used here to speak about Jesus’ crucifixion in two ways:
- As a way to highlight the crucifixion as a “lifting up,”. Jesus the Son of God will be lifted up means that he will be exalted and every knee shall bow before him and every power in the world and in the heaven will confess that Jesus is the Lord.
- and as a way to say that the passion of Christ provides a remedy, and the promise of life. Jesus came to give life in abundance and he is life itself. Without him nothing was created.
Unlike the synoptic Gospels, John’s Gospel presents the crucifixion not as an event of horror and humiliation, but as exaltation. There are no great drops of sweat. No crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
No, in John it’s an enthronement. It’s the moment of coronation where Jesus’ kingship is fulfilled and proclaimed.
And, in this moment, Jesus is lifted high for everyone to behold. In the words of Simeon in the Gospel of Luke: “My eyes have seen the savior whom you have prepared for all the world to see; a light to enlighten the nations, and the glory of your people, Israel.”
But, the event of the cross isn’t just an advertisement, or a show. It actually does something. The cross is effectual.
Just like when the Israelites looked at the brazen serpent they were able to be healed, the cross has the power to heal and give life too. But, according to John, gazing upon it isn’t enough.
You need to have faith. You need to be moved to believe. Which is, of course, what the entire third chapter of John is all about.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
This conversation that begins with Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night becomes a sermon on the reign of God which is made manifest on Calvary, and what the reign of God calls us to be in response: people of faith. Not like the Israelites in the wilderness, complaining that the manna was bland—but people feasting on the manna that God provides with thankfulness and faithful recognition of Our King.
We need to confess that Jesus is Lord
We need to believe in his power to heal and restore
We need to be in touch with Jesus every moment of the day
Let us not think that we can save ourselves through our good deeds. We cannot save ourselves. We need the power of Jesus to save us and that power we have received in Baptism. We have become sons and daughter of God through Jesus our brother.
Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD
Sunday Mass with Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza - Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple and in three days
Sunday Mass with Fr. Rudolf V. D'Souza - Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple and in three days.
3rd Sunday of Lent- Year B - John 2:13-25
Friday - 2nd Week Of Lent - Year B - Matthew 21:33-43
3rd Sunday of Lent – Year B
Readings: Exodus 20:1-17; I Cor 1:22-25; John 2:13-25
We are celebrating the 3rd Sunday of Lent. During this weekend we reflect on Jesus’ zeal for his Father’s house, which should be a house of prayer and worship and not a place of business or market. This opens a wide door to reflections on our day to day sense of worship and prayer. If our worship and prayer is directed towards worldly matters and affairs then we have a moment to reflect that God wants true worshippers in spirit and truth. Let us now reflect on the readings of this Sunday.
The Ten Commandments set out in the First Reading, Exod 20:1-17, in no way represent a moral code imposed as if it simply dropped down from heaven. Behind the commandments and the values they enshrine lies Israel’s covenant relationship with the God who set her free from slavery in Egypt and made her a people with a unique vocation: holy, beloved and set apart. It is by way of response to the gift of freedom and life that Israel lives according to the values and prescriptions set out in the commandments, modelling in this way before the nations of the world what it means to live out the Creator’s true intent for human beings.
Hence the stress in the opening commandments upon the relationship with the Lord, as sole and unique God. Then comes the Sabbath, the day set apart each week for leisure to reflect and foster relationships, including, first of all, the foundational relationship with God. The remaining commandments, beginning with the family and extending to marriage and all social relationships, should not be seen simply as prohibitions but as enshrining the values essential to peaceful life in human society. We could perhaps linger a little on the final ones having to do with “coveting”: that human desire to possess more and more which insecurity and fear can make all-consuming. St. Paul, in Romans 7:7-8, will see in it the very essence of sin. While in themselves the Ten Commandments presuppose a social set-up vastly different from our own, the values they enshrine have an abiding and far more widespread application.
The Second Reading, 1 Cor 1:22-25, contains perhaps the most radical sentences Paul ever wrote. Centuries of Christian tradition have dulled us to the horror and shock the thought of crucifixion evoked in the Greco-Roman world. It was simply not a subject to be mentioned—let alone depicted. Yet the early Christian missionaries, such as Paul, had to proclaim a crucified One as the Lord of salvation—the very antithesis of what the two categories of audience, Jews and Greeks, were looking for. Jews wanted their Messiah to prove his credentials by performing the kind of miraculous acts and stunts suggested to Jesus by Satan at the Temptation—suggestions Jesus swiftly dismissed. The Greeks—educated citizens of the wider Mediterranean world—were looking for salvation in the form of instruction that they could consider and adopt if it seemed reasonable. Salvation in such a form would have neatly met human desires. But God had in mind a solution vastly more radical, incomprehensible to merely human understanding: an act of divine unselfishness sufficient to match and overcome the entire accumulated mass of human selfishness and sin. The very capacity to see the Cross in these terms is something itself requiring the gift of God. Hence Paul’s insistence that only “those who are called”, those, that is, who have been grasped by God’s grace, can see the Cross as the power and the wisdom of God.
We may think that we have come to terms with this mystery. Then suffering or loss in some new form forces us to confront it anew. Every Lent is an invitation to journey once again to the heart of the Paschal Mystery and expose ourselves to a fresh appreciation of the Cross as the saving power and wisdom of God.
The Gospel, John 2:13-25, presents us with the Johannine version of Jesus’ cleansing of the Temple. Though the Fourth Gospel, unlike the Synoptics, places this episode at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, it has essential reference to the events of his death and resurrection. In driving out from the Temple the animals brought there for sacrifice Jesus is in effect shutting it down as a place of worship. His own body is now to become the “place” or sanctuary where God is present and is to be worshipped. “Zeal for his father’s house” will “destroy” him in the sense that his attempt to break the confinement of worship to the physical Temple will provoke the hostility that will ultimately lead to the destruction of his own physical body. But in resurrection Jesus will “raise up” the new sanctuary of his risen body where his disciples and all subsequent believers will truly “dwell” with God and God with them. The disciples will grasp the full significance of what he is now saying when they “remember” it in the light of these later events.
Jesus whole mission, centring upon his death and resurrection, is driven by a consuming zeal to bring about between human beings and their God the “at-homeness” with God that he, as beloved Son, enjoys eternally with the Father (John 1:1-2, 18; 17:5)
Ultimately as we are approaching the celebration of the Pascal mysteries, we need to focus our attention of cleansing the temple of our hearts. This is an occasion also to understand that Jesus’ kingdom does not flourish in business terms rather in terms of compassions, love, forgiveness and joy of the Gospel. Hence, dear friends, let us gear up to understanding the real meaning of God’s kingdom in our lives and let the physical Church and spiritual Church become the true witness to Christ’s suffering, death and Resurrection
Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD
Vancouver - Canada