Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Hour of Christ

5th Sunday of Lent B
Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons
March 18, 2018

Jesus, I trust in you!

We have a saying” Pag oras mo na, oras mo na.” Oras here means death. It means that when your time is up, no matter how much money you have or how good your doctors are, if it is your time to die, nothing will keep you for dying. There seems to be some sense of fatalism here but what it says is true: there will be a time to die and when it comes, there is no escaping it.

The Lord Jesus today speaks of his “Hour.” In the Gospel according to John, the Hour of Jesus is a very important theme. It appears as early as the first miracle of Christ during the wedding at Cana. When Our Lady brought to his attention the problem of the newly wedded couple, Our Lord said to her: “My hour has not yet come.” Even when the Jews attempted to kill him or even arrest him, the Lord would escape unharmed because his Hour has not yet come. However, in today’s Gospel, that Hour has at last arrived: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

What is this hour all about? This refers to the hour of his death: the time when the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies in order to bear much fruit. When the wheat dies in the ground, mysteriously life is released from its shell (balat) and it produces thousands of other grains containing its same nature. Similarly, Christ’s death brings about the birth of many sons and daughters unto God, inheriting eternal life and participating in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

Although he is troubled, the Lord Jesus resolutely faces this hour because it was for this purpose that he came. He wants to glorify the Father by giving up his life for the sake of sinners. From the Cross, Jesus “offered loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, Jesus learned obedience by his sufferings.” His obedience glorified God. In doing so, he casts out the “ruler of this world” and draws all men to himself. He is the Son of Man who ascends to the throne of God through the heavenly ladder, which is the Cross. By the Cross, he is lifted up to God. By the same Cross, we ascend to him. Jesus was glorified because he was obedient until death on the Cross. We ascend to God also using the same ladder. We ascend through obedience also until death. “When Jesus was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.”

By his death, the Lord Jesus is ratifying a new covenant for us with God. This covenant is ratified, not by the blood of animals but by his own blood which was shed upon the Cross. This is the new covenant referred to by the Prophet Jeremiah: “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people…All shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evil doing and remember their sin no more.” He writes his law upon our hearts by pouring upon us his Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals the Father and the Son to us. He gives an interior witness to Jesus in us. He Holy Spirit poured in our hearts brings about the forgiveness of our sins. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to obey God and to be faithful to this covenant. Therefore, as Christ faces his Hour, let us make the petition of the Greeks as our very own: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” We would like to see him so that we may follow him. We will follow him to Jerusalem. We will follow him to the Cross. We would like to see his glory. We would like to be glorified with him by dying with him, by crucifying our disobedient hearts so that we may acquire hearts like his own: meek and humble, always obedient to the Father’s will.

O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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