Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
Today, March 25, is exactly 9 months away from Christmas day. If it were not a Sunday of Lent, we should be celebrating today the Feast of the Annunciation – the Feast that commemorates the Incarnation of Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There is a long standing tradition that says that when Christ died on the Cross, that Good Friday happened to fall on a March 25. Thus, this day is truly significant: today, Christ entered into the world and also departed from it 33 years after. God has truly arranged history that he made the day of the Incarnation and the day of the Crucifixion fall on the same date.
That the day of Christ’s conception and death should fall on the same date is a wonderful illustration of everything Jesus said in today’s Gospel reading: the purpose of his birth was his death. In other words, the purpose of Christ’s life on earth was to die. He was born in order to die. The Lord Jesus called his death with a peculiar name: he called it his “hour”. In the gospel of John, the “hour” stands for the most important part of the life and mission of Jesus. It was the reason of his earthly existence: “It was for this purpose that I came to this hour.”
Jesus did not deny that he was humanly troubled at the coming of the moment of his suffering and death. Who is not troubled at the approach of death? Death is frightening because it goes against our desire to survive. There is a loneliness with the experience of death. We might be surrounded by loved ones on our deathbed but when the time comes, each person leaves everything and everyone behind and, alone, passes through the threshold of death.
Jesus says: “I am troubled now.” But, he resolutely faces this dreadful hour: “Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.” He resolutely faces death because this is the only way to glorify the name of the Father: “Father, glorify your name!” The devil marred the likeness of God in the human soul. Sin brought death to man who was supposed to live happily in eternity with God. Jesus knows that it is through his death that he shall restore to God what the devil has stolen: the glory of God in man fully alive! Thus, the death of Jesus will be his hour – it will be the hour of his victory: “Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He will not be victorious by killing. He will be victorious by dying. For such is the logic of God which dumbfounds the logic of the world: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” Suffering does not destroy him. On the contrary, suffering perfects Jesus in his filial obedience: “Son though he was, Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered. And when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
Therefore, let us allow ourselves to be drawn to him who hangs lifeless on the Cross. Let us draw close to the grain that falls and dies. Let us approach him with gratitude and obedience in our hearts for we know that only in following him along the way of the Cross can we serve him. Only in following him along the way of the Cross can we be where he is now. Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!
O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!