March 22, 2015

The Gospel Today

Fifth Sunday of Lent

John 12:20-33

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast
came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee,
and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”
Philip went and told Andrew;
then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Jesus answered them,
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
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.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.

“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?
‘Father, save me from this hour’?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven,
“I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder;
but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
Jesus answered and said,
“This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
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 said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

Reflection (Sem.  Nathaniel Pagalan):

Usually when I give directed retreats it is not uncommon to hear retreatants complain about not being able to feel, see or sense God in their lives. Of course, after losing someone dear, a marriage that is failing, a business at the point of bankruptcy, experiencing a terminal disease, or retrenchment from work, who would not feel the same way given such circumstance? Those experiences can be very overwhelming and downright heartbreaking. A lot of times, when we are in those most challenging moments, all we see are our very own problems, miseries and misfortunes – and nothing more!

But precisely, I believe that it is in these difficult moments when God is most alive. It is in these moments when God is most near. It is in these moments when God is most actively working in our lives. I believe so because He experienced the same thing. He knows how it is to be helpless. He knows how it is to lose heart. And in His words, He knows how it is to be troubled.

In the song, God of Silence, it says that “the darkness isn’t emptiness.” It is actually a moment when “God is molding our hearts unto His image and the dark will set us free.” Silence is the language of God. It is in these trying moments when we are being taught of other Gospel values. The invitation is to get hold of ourselves and to be more open and trusting knowing that all shall be well. We are to look at the grace more than the pains. For these are moments of transformation. These are moments of maturity. These are moments of building character.

Just like our Gospel today, Jesus spoke of the grain of wheat that only bears fruit when it dies. Thus, like Jesus, our experiences of little deaths, of pains, of inconveniences are moments when we can vividly see God’s glory in our lives. If we are sensitive enough, we sense a God who carries us. We see a God who is with us. We feel a God who accompanies us.

It is in dying that we bear much fruit. We need to remember that no plant will make a sound while growing. It grows silently with much time. And again, we are invited to trust. In the words of Teilhard de Chardin to trust in the slow work of God. For His plans are for us to prosper and not for our ruin.

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