March 25, 2012 – Fifth Sunday of Lent
Today’s gospel reading begins with some people looking for Jesus. And when Andrew and Phillip inform Jesus that there are more people who want to encounter Him, Jesus explains that it is time for Him to be glorified, for all men to know Him and for Him to “draw all men to Himself.”
But it is interesting to note that, as He talks of His impending glorification, we do not hear of pomp and circumstance like one would expect to glorify the King of Kings. Jesus speaks instead of suffering and death – “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.”
Through His death, He will be glorified. Through His death, He will bear great fruit (taking upon Himself the punishment for the sins of the world and offering us eternal life). And, Jesus tells us, it is through His death on the cross that He will draw all men to Himself.
It is the wonderful paradox of the cross.
But Jesus doesn’t stop there. He is not just telling the disciples of what will happen to Him. He gives them responsibility as His disciples; He tells them of their role in it all.
“Whoever loves His life loses it and whoever hates His life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”
As Christ’s disciples, we must follow suit. We must die to self and live not for this world, but for Christ – giving our lives in service for others. Discipleship lived through stewardship involves sacrifice – real, hard self sacrifice, but, it bears great fruit, just like the grain of wheat that must die in order to bear fruit or like Christ Himself whose mission on this Earth required Him to die so that we all could live life eternal.
In His letter to the Hebrews, Paul reminds us, “In the days when Christ was in the flesh, He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears.” He suffered. But then, Paul reminds us that through His suffering, Christ “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.
He died, and then He rose from the dead, offering life everlasting to all who believe.
We must follow Christ.
That does not mean that we must die today in order to bear great fruit. In fact, the Lord has placed us on this Earth to proclaim the Good News. He wants us hear. But, living as Christ’s disciple will involve great suffering. It will involve great sacrifice. We may be mocked and jeered like Jesus was. We most definitely will (as most of us already have) deal with much pain this side of heaven – through diseases and the like.
It is not easy. But what today’s readings teach us is that when we unite our pain and sufferings to Christ, when die to ourselves and live for Him, we glorify the Lord and we help to draw men to Him. We take part in the mission of Christ hear and now.
That is discipleship lived through stewardship. That’s what Christian living is all about.
May we endure the pain and sufferings and sacrifice of the cross so that we will know the glory of the resurrection.