Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday word, 22 Mar 15

Touched by Jesus
Fifth Sunday of Lent B (22 Mar 2015)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
We profess Jesus was buried. In the Nicene Creed we say Jesus suffered death and was buried. The Apostles’ Creed lets us voice Jesus was crucified, died and was buried. With those words we profess that Jesus’ earthly life came to its awful end. The prospect of his end troubled Jesus although he knew and had told his disciples he would be put to death with cruel suffering.1 Yet his fear did not force Jesus from his mission: for this purpose…I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.

In John’s Gospel Jesus coming into the world echoes God sending his Son to save the world, as last Sunday’s gospel reminded. The Son of God fully entered our human condition with his unique mission: to save humanity and all creation. Jesus expressed his mission with the image of buried seed: Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.

Jesus’ words were never throwaway. He signaled, Listen up, when he began sayings with Amen, amen—as we heard. His hearers lived in tune with the earth, closer than many of us sophisticated, modern folk. Buried seeds die, that is, become other than what people planted. The trans-formation is mysterious, one brimming with life—life that nourished other creatures. His disciples did not know what we do until his resurrection after his death and burial. Because they lived in tune with the earth his image—the death of a grain and its transformed, abundant, nourishing life—opened their hearts and minds for what would happen.

What registered in their hearts and minds when Jesus rose from death and met the disciples again? They felt them-selves touched by risen Jesus and his power for them. From the first they named that power holy; they soon recognized that same power as personal: Jesus had said promised them, The holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.2

This reminding reached far beyond Jesus. The disciples realized that as risen Lord Jesus was the promised new covenant Prophet Jeremiah had announced. It was no-thing less than God’s promise—covenant means promise—to be their God, to be for them. God for them answered the Psalmist’s prayer, Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me. After Jesus rose from the dead he wrapped them in divine presence and joy. They readily named both Holy Spirit.

Divine joy exceeds human happiness. We rightly name joy a fruit of Holy Spirit3 because it endures even in affliction. Divine joy and human sadness exist side by side. One example: when we bury a loved one who lived a full life our sadness cannot totally conquer our joy at being touched and shaped by our loved one’s life. That joy in the midst of deep sadness is not ours but from risen Jesus.  Others may not see our joy only our tears.

So it was with Jesus. His loud cries and tears, his death and burial united him with our human condition. Because he was one with his Father and his mission, he could say, I am troubled now. …But…for this purpose [to save the world]4 that I came to this hour.

As we continue our journey this Lent we might consider what closes our hearts and minds to Jesus, to his good news. The more clearly we name what tries to close our hearts and minds and bring them into the light the better able we are to move against them. We also increase our desire and our courage to replicate in our lives the pattern of Jesus and live it with the joy his Holy Spirit gives us anew each day.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Rest  in  our triune God’s faithful, life-giving love.
  • Ask Mary and your patron saint to present you to Jesus.
  • Chat with him: praise him for being God’s life sent into the world to save and to free us from what enslaves us.
  • Ask Jesus, “Renew my life of faith; increase my courage and desire to let the pattern of your life, death, burial and resurrection shape me; and give me the joy of your Holy Spirit each day.”
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us his prayer as our daily, practical guide to live his paschal mystery and to share its saving effects even now.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise

  1. His passion predictions: Matthew 16.21-23; 17.22-23; 20.17-19 and parallels.
  2. John 14.26.
  3. Galatians 5.22.
  4. John 3.17.

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