Sharing Christ’s Glory Revealed in His Suffering
Rdgs: (1st: Jer 31, 31-34; Ps 50, 3-15; 2nd: Heb 5, 7-9: Gos: Jn 12, 20-30)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today as we celebrate the 5th Sunday of Lent, we are drawing closer to our destination and to the most important moments in our journey this season. This fact is reflected in all the readings of this Sunday. One important thing we must bear in mind as we continue our walk with Christ is that he is as ready to offer everything for our restoration and salvation. So, we too must be willing to offer all for others and for him.
The first reading of this Sunday is an assurance of God’s continuous presence with us his people. It also reminds us of the new thing that God is about to do in our midst: “I will make a new covenant and never call their sin to mind…then, I will be their God and they will be my people.” Through these words, we find that God is ready to set aside a relationship that was destroyed by infidelity. He is ready to restore a broken relationship. On our own part, we must be ready to accept this new covenant for what he really is. That is, a source of restoration, salvation and life. If we follow him, we have chosen life and salvation. So, as we continue our walk this Lent, let us know that God is willing and able to fulfill his promise and nothing can stop him. All he demands from us is to be ready to accept this new covenant.
The second reading of this Sunday reminds us of the Gethsemane experience of Jesus. It recounts the price paid by Christ in order to fulfill the promise of his father: “Christ offered prayer…he learnt to obey through suffering…he became for all who obey him the source of eternal life.” He is willing to pay this price again this season in order to get us going in life. We must note and, learn how Christ achieves this. It is through prayer, entreaty, and silent tears for suffering humanity. Of course, he did all these in humility and obedience which are very important virtues we need in other to excel in life. Without these Christ would be able to achieve the new covenant that restores us. Today, as we see Christ carrying out his priestly and intercessory role, we must find new courage to press on in the midst of trials, persecution, and even doubts. Also, we must learn from His experience, that suffering is necessary, and inevitable in life. This is because, just as Christ, we will be made perfect through it.
The gospel of this Sunday draws us closer to our destination. In it, Christ himself tells us: “Now the hour has come for the son of man to be glorified.” What glory is there in suffering? He is about to be arrested, punished and killed, yet he still talks about his glory. Perhaps, if it were to be in our time, Jesus would be graded among the religious fundamentalists who are seeking “the illusory glory of heaven and seven virgins” by committing suicide. Jesus saw beyond the thick clouds of pains, sufferings and difficulties in order to behold success and eternal life. He knew that his suffering and death would restore life to many. So, rather than be discouraged by the temporary situation of suffering, he was encouraged and motivated by the honest reward of eternal life. This is not only for himself, but for all of us. Christ the son of God offered his suffering and life in order to restore a broken covenant and to guarantee eternal life. Hence, he says: “Unless a grain of wheat dies it remains a single grain, but if it dies it yields a rich harvest.”
Unfortunately, today many of us do not want to follow this path. Jesus invites us to be strong along the path of life. He wants us to be where he is. However, it is important to note that he did not get there by killing himself. So, we must be ready to endure as he did. We must be ready to die as a grain dies in order to regenerate. If we must share in this new covenant, we must be ready to lose our lives so as to find it. Practically speaking, we die every day when we stand up for justices and against injustice, when we speak the truth instead of lies; when we give up our comfort for the sake of others; when we say no to sin, corruption and immorality; and, when we stand alone because we refuse to be part of the crimes and evils of our society. These “daily deaths” draw much strength from us and shrink our physical life. However, the more our physical life shrinks, the more our spiritual life is strengthened and glorified. Only those who walk and follow till the end will be restored to eternal life. Hence, the psalmist tells us: “…but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Ish 40, 31). Therefore as we continue our walk with Christ this season, the thought of his own suffering and death must strengthen us daily. Also, we must constantly remind ourselves that to suffer for others, and for Christ, is an honorable thing to do. This is because, that is where the glory lies.
Peace be with you!