Reflections on the Readings
March 22, 2015 - Year B
Fifth Sunday of Lent
For This Purpose
"Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify thy name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again." The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, "An angel has spoken to him."
I'm not sure how the prosperity preachers would handle today's readings. There are riches in these readings for sure, but not the kind that would line the pockets. Jesus is troubled in his soul and weeps with tears only his Father can understand. Jesus agonizes in the great depths of prayer in anticipation of a cruel and mocking death, knowing that his closest associates will betray and deny him, a grain of wheat that must fall into the ground and die and become fruitful as a field of wheat. The hour is filled with God's purpose for a new humanity - ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven!
In the days of his flesh, Jesus wrestled in prayer with loud cries and tears. These are some of the most descriptive and moving words in all of scripture. We do well in meditating upon them. Jesus did not seek a way around the cross. He bore the cross before he died on it. In his own body, the Son of God showed what can be known of holiness in the flesh like our flesh. In his flesh Jesus reveals how it is possible to say, "Not my will, but thy will be done." In that prayer Jesus gives us a picture of humility; humility that comes from obedience of heart, faith that is the sweet aroma of Christ, a new humanity of sons and daughters born again by the Spirit of grace.
"For this purpose," says Jesus, "I have come to this hour." Our Lenten pilgrimage is leading us to Jesus, to his purpose for us to grow in holiness. There are moments in time in which we sense a fulness, a resolute purpose of heaven to which we are called. Our day is such a time. News of wars and rumors of war are everywhere. Humanity is enduring the butchering of the innocent in the womb and of faithful Christians in the Middle East. Ours is a moment in history when genuine voices are needed to pierce the darkness with truth, goodness, and beauty. As servants of Christ we are called to a life of surrender to Christ, and to have hearts filled with the prayers and tears of Jesus. That is our purpose in this life, the purpose for which we were created: namely, to know, love, and serve God and to make him known.
Our world surely needs the witness of an authentic Christian life, a witness unafraid to make him known, bringing a little bit of the Kingdom where we are. This requires a heart filled with the aroma of Calvary. Let us make it our Lenten promise to be full of all that Jesus wants to give us, that all of the strength and power and love of his salvation be more and more increasing in us until our world and all the world around is filled with his purpose!
Dennis Hankins, a Catholic Evangelist, is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com