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5th Sunday in Lent - March 18, 2018


Traducir al Español

By Deacon Jeff Mevissen

Some Greeks came to see Jesus, then Jesus launched into a discourse on the grain of wheat that falls to the earth and dies.  Is there a paragraph missing in the Gospel of John? There seems no connection between Greeks and grains of wheat.  Unless, in the mind of the Gospel writer, those who wish to see Jesus must look with eyes of faith to find the one who died that he may bring life.  Indeed we cannot probe the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus solely with our minds but also with our hearts because in my heart I believe, I adore, I love, and I trust.  In the Gospel of John, Jesus is glorified on the cross because the cross is the revelation of the love of the Father.  John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him may not parish, but may have eternal life.”

 

The seed must fall to the earth and die to sprout and bear fruit.  Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and buried and the Christ of Faith rose from the tomb.  We offer ourselves with Jesus at each Mass that dying with him, we may glorify the Father, be transformed, and bear much fruit.  Whoever serves Jesus must follow him to the Paschal Mystery of dying to find new life. 

 

How do we die to ourselves in our vocations?  In marriage the early years are easy because we are carried by romantic love and the late years are easy because we are carried by being comfortable together.  The middle years of marriage are difficult when we are under many stresses and confronted with many distractions.  When our vocation is difficult is when we must decide if we are to die to self to live for another. Love becomes a choice.  This is the time when couples must support and challenge one another order to grow and grow together.  I wish I could present myself as a model for good listening and good communicating but that is not the case.  Instead I am presenting Lent as a time of renewal and growth.  Jesus did not redeem the world as a warrior messiah but as the suffering servant.  We are weak and broken people but we we offer ourselves to Jesus in our vulnerability and this allows grace to operate.  Those who are single should not feel left out of these remarks – there is ample opportunity for every person to live in service to family and friends.  The question the Gospel asks us is whether we are living for ourselves or for others?

 

To follow our conscience is sometimes an occasion to die to self.  There was a soldier in the German army in World War II; his name was Joseph Schultz.  One day Schultz was ordered to join a detail of other soldiers out in the country.  Nothing unusual about that until the truck reached a clearing in the woods.  When the tailgate of the truck dropped, Schultz saw men and women lined up for execution.  Schultz, as a man of conscience made a quick decision.  He left his helmet in the truck, laid his rifle on the ground, and stood with the victims.  In this country, legislatures and courts are debating the limits of the Second Amendment of the Constitution; the right to keep and bear arms in the face of increasing gun violence.  Those are political and legal decisions but what about the moral decision?  Is there a point when a person of conscience lays down his Second Amendment rights and stands with the victims?  The moral question is how many innocent people are we willing to sacrifice on the altar of the Second Amendment?

 

Jesus said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.”  That is why our church is catholic because the love of Christ demonstrated on the cross transcends all national and ethnic divisions.  The Love of Christ can heal all wounds but we must become agents of reconciliation.  As St. Francis prayed, “Lord make me a channel of your peace.”  This week the Elect pray their Third Scrutiny.  With them we ask ourselves, how have I failed to die to self to live for others?  How can I be a minister of reconciliation in my family and in our world?  How can Lent be a time of renewal and time to choose to love more profoundly?  Jesus is calling us to follow him in expressing the Love of God in our lives.