Readings: Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 5:7-9; John 12: 20-33
A few years ago a public opinion survey of teenagers asked what they wanted to be in the future and the answer, perhaps understandable but also shocking, was to be famous. Not just young people but many of us today would love to be famous, to be recognized by everyone, to have money, fame, and fans. Fame as a life’s goal, while held up by the media, is a problematic goal.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks of glory but it is in radical contrast to our popular culture’s vision of fame and glory. Jesus speaks of his glorification not through his incredible miracles, or popularity, or in winning multiple arguments with opponents.
According to Jesus, His glorification comes from suffering on the Cross. How can this be? How can glory come from suffering and a shameful death? Isn’t that humiliating and shame-filled? This is part of the paradox of the Cross- Jesus says that His act of obedience to the Father, which will take Him to a brutal death, reveals glory. This is not the glory of a glitzy Hollywood film icon, but one that reveals to all creation the extent of God’s love for every person. Glorification then for Jesus is not self-referential but points to God’s power is to free us and highlight a way of life-based upon following Christ even during times of suffering.
What might this tell us today? Today’s reading from the Gospel of John shows us what is important for Christians is not fame or an easy life but obedience to God. It also tells us the extent of God’s love- that the Son would willingly suffer death to show us the power of love over sin and death. Finally, this reading reminds us that suffering is a part of our life-certainly, not one we dwell on- and how we suffer is important. Do we seek Jesus’ companionship during our hard times and realize that through suffering we can grow closer to ourselves and to God?
So perhaps this Sunday we can spend some time thanking God for His love and ask how we can spread that love onto others in our world.
Remember to support MDA whose doctors walk with the suffering poor and seek to heal. God bless you and have a blessed Fifth Sunday of Lent.