Fifth Sunday of Lent
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51 “Create a clean heart in me, O God.”
Second Reading: Hebrews 5:7-9
Gospel: John 12:20-33
When we feel overwhelmed by all the things we think we have to do, one of our Sisters is known to remind us that the only thing we have to do is die!
As we draw ever closer to Holy Week and the great Feast of Easter, Jesus seems to be saying the same thing to us: “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.”
This may sound very poetic and spiritual but for anyone has experienced a dying to self (life will provide this for just about everyone) it is very painful, whether it is the physical death of a loved one; the humbling truth of ones faults, the darkness of emotional distress, the loss of a dream, a life altering injury or illness . . . Jesus himself experienced emotional anguish and physical suffering. Yet he like us, could not escape the struggles of life. In his acceptance Jesus showed us that there is resurrection; that new life comes when a seed is buried in the darkness of soil.
This is the God that I have personally fallen in love with – the God who loves us so much that God surrendered to the human experience, became powerless -first in birth and then in death. This is a God who freely gives self to us so that we might live. This is a God who truly knows the “dyings” in our lives and is with us in the midst of our own struggles. Faith gives us courage to surrender so we don’t have to cling to our lives and miss the glory of resurrection that we can experience here and now.
Edward Schillebeeckx, a well known theologian, wrote that God does not take away suffering; God transforms it.
Therefore, if we wish to be transformed and to truly experience the kingdom of God here and now, dying in some form is essential to fullness of life.
In Our Lives as Sisters of The Redeemer. . .
The Scriptures today speak to our spirituality as a congregation founded by a woman who was familiar both with God and suffering – her own and others. Mother Alphonse Maria Eppinger discovered deep peace and fullness of life by trusting in God in the midst of struggles. She helped others to do the same by being present to them in their time of need.
This week we experienced new life, sometimes in unexpected situations:
Twenty college students from UConn showed up to serve in our community garden when one of their planned service sites fell through. Despite cold weather and muddy conditions there was a lot of laughter and comradery.
The unexpected relocation of our community garden brought a new fence and more new life in the form of an Eagle Scout project. A local scout troop helped to build & install new raised garden beds. Thank you!
One of our Sisters completed a year-long program in health care leadership. The program ended with graduation and a visit to the first ministry site of our Sisters in the United States.
A gathering of our international leadership team in Germany keeps us mindful of our spirituality and mission. We are grateful for our Sisters who make great sacrifices to guide our congregation.
In Your Life . . .
It is no accident that Holy Week and Easter are celebrated as Winter gives way to Spring; when new life comes forth from what looks dead and barren. Already some brave stalks have pushed up through the frozen ground and snow and are on the verge of blooming.
Jesus often referred to nature to convey the Kingdom of God. Today we hear of the grain of wheat.
During this Holy Season we encourage you to get out for a prayer walk to notice God’s promises in creation. Let God’s creation share the story of transformation.
Blessings on your week!