From the Pastor's Desk
Today’s readings focus on the approaching death of Jesus which Paul considers a priestly sacrifice and John considers the moment of Jesus’ "exaltation" and "glorification." The readings offer us a challenge. Just as Jesus became the “Promised Messiah of Glory” and the “Conquering Son of Man” by offering his life for others, we, too, must possess Heaven by dying to self and by spending our lives in self-giving, sacrificial service.
The first reading, taken from the book of the Prophet Jeremiah, explains how God will replace the Old Covenant of Judgment with a New Covenant of Forgiveness of sins. This New or Renewed Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah was fulfilled, at least in part, through Jesus’ life, death and Resurrection.
The Responsorial Psalm (Ps 51) is our cry for mercy from God as we ask Him to cleanse us from sin and guilt and create a “new heart” for us.
In the second reading, St. Paul tells the Hebrews that it is by Jesus’ suffering and death, in obedience to his Father’s will, that Jesus established the New Covenant. Using metaphors of the “sown wheat-grain” and the “spent life” in today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches the same lessons St. Paul does.
The Gospel hints at the inner struggle of Jesus in accepting the cup of suffering to inaugurate the New and everlasting Covenant. However, Jesus accepts the cross as his “hour,” meaning the stepping-stone to his passion, death, Resurrection and exaltation. He also considers his “hour” as the way of glorifying his Heavenly Father and of being glorified by his Father. In addition, it is the way by which Jesus draws all people into the saving action of God. Finally, the “lifting up” of Jesus on the cross and later into Heavenly glory by Resurrection and
Ascension is the assurance of our own exaltation and glorification, provided we accept our crosses.
- Today’s Gospel teaches us that new life and eternal life are possible only by the death of the self through suffering and service. Salt gives its taste by dissolving in water. A candle gives light by burning its wick and melting its wax. The oyster produces a priceless pearl by transforming a grain of sand through a long and painful process. Loving parents sacrifice themselves so that their children can enjoy a better life than they themselves had. Let us pray that we may acquire this self-sacrificial spirit, especially during Lent.
- Only a life spent for others will be glorified in Heaven, and sometimes even in this world. We know that the world owes everything to people who have spent their time and talents for God and for their fellow human beings. Mother Teresa, for instance, gave up her comfortable teaching career, and with just 17 cents in her pocket began her challenging life for the “poorest of the poor” in the crowded streets of Calcutta. We see similar cases in the history of great saints, scientists and benefactors of mankind in all walks of life. They chose to burn out rather than to rust out. Examples are the Rockefeller Foundation for scientific progress and the Bill Gates Foundation for AIDS Research. Let us, too, spend ourselves for others.