Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Today we need to look at all three of our assigned reading in order to totally understand what it was the Jesus wanted his followers to know. The New Testament lesson begins with some Greeks coming and wishing to speak with Jesus, but Jesus’ reply sounds strange when he says that, “the hour has come for the son of man to be glorified.”
Jesus had used that term “the son of man” before to describe himself, but what did he mean when he referred to his hour to be glorified? We have heard of people’s “15 minutes of fame” but it would seem that Jesus is saying that his time of glory would be on the cross on Good Friday. There had been earlier times when Jesus had said his time had not yet come. This is what he had told his mother at the wedding in Cana. Jesus had told the Samaritan women that the time would come when man would worship in spirit and in truth; and he told his disciples that the time would come when he would no longer need to speak in parables.
In this morning’s lesson, Jesus compared himself with a grain of wheat that needed to die and be buried in the ground in order to produce fruit. We can hear this and understand the Jesus had to die on the cross, be buried and resurrected so that you and I might gain salvation. All of this would be accomplished in order that his father might be glorified. And, what does it mean to glorify the father? In the garden before his arrest, Jesus prayed that if it were possible that the cup (his impending crucifixion) be taken from him. But that prayer continued with these words, “not my will but thine be done.” That’s how we glorify God. We place his desires for our lives ahead of our desires
In our Old Testament lesson, the prophet Jeremiah told the people that God was going to make a new covenant with the people. But, unlike the past, the new covenant would be etched on their hearts rather than on stone tablets. God calls each of us to commit ourselves to him in body, mind and spirit and in doing so we will establish a meaningful, personal relation with him.
Jesus prayed that God would spare him from the ordeal that he would soon be forced to face. God’s response to that prayer should be a lesson for each of us. He said, “I won’t spare you, but I will be with you.” Those were the same words used by Jesus to his disciples before he ascended back to heaven. He said, “I am with you always, even to the end of time.”
As we move into the final week of Lent and approach Palm Sunday, may our thoughts and prayers this week reflect on Jesus’ hour and on his glory…and on his suffering and death. Rather that a prayer for good health and prosperity and safety, may we focus our attention on the needs of others. May we not seek to be relieved of our own hunger and need, but rather may we desire only the spiritual nourishment that God can provide. Let’s not pray that God will shield us from the dark days and storms of life, but rather that we may learn to place our trust in God to provide us with his warmth and safety when we find ourselves traveling through the valley of the shadows of this life.
Jesus talked about being sanctified which means to be set aside as holy to God. Being sanctified means placing our distress and pain at the foot of God’s altar and saying, “not my will, but thine be done.” During our hour when there is no glory, but we remember that Christ is there to lift us up just as he was lifted up and that we are called to die to self with him in order that we might be raised with him to a new life.
It is only when the sun goes down and the sky becomes dark that we can best see the glory of the stars. When we come up against those difficult and troubling times, we can lift our eyes to heaven and find the comfort needed to go on. We can look to the cross and remember Christ’s words, “not my will, but thine be done.” And when we too can say and mean those words, we too will glorify the Father and we too will be blessed in a wonderful and powerful way.
And we know that because we know that God is good…all the time.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
“My Jesus, I belie that you are present in the holy sacrament of your body and blood. I love you above all things and I desire to receive you into my soul. Since I cannot at this time receive you sacramentally, I invite you to come spiritually into my heart. I embrace you as if you were here with me and I unite myself with you fully. Never permit me to be separated from you. Amen.
A Prayer for the Church and Benediction:
Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
May the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord; and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.