5th Sunday of Lent year B 2018:
Well, my friends, we are entering into the very last part of Lent now. These last two weeks are often referred to as “passiontide”. These two weeks are an intense time of reflection upon the death of Christ so that we can fully grasp and appreciate his glorious resurrection.
You notice that our readings are really drawing our attention to what is coming up in the near future. The first reading we hear “the days are coming when I will make a new covenant.” We know that the new covenant is the promise of love and salvation from God that is sealed with the blood of the new Lamb, Jesus Christ. When we look at the cross, when we reflect on Christ’s saving passion, we see the promise of the Father’s love. This is how much God loves us: he loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for all of us. Indeed, the days are coming when we will celebrate this blessed passion. But, we also call our attention to the days when Christ will come again, when this New Covenant is fulfilled with eternal life.
Jesus calls our attention to his upcoming hour as well: the hour has come for the son of man to be glorified. Interesting to think about the passion of Christ as the moment of his glory. In some ways it’s quite ironic. The moment that he looks the weakest, the most abandoned, the farthest from human glory is his moment on the cross. But, the moment when he shows his divine power, the moment where he is most in communion with God’s will for our salvation, the moment he receives the greatest glory is the moment he offers his life for the salvation of the world. It’s amazing how big the difference is between these two perspectives on the same event. Jesus Christ dies on the cross. From a human perspective, it was a great defeat. From the divine perspective, it is a great triumph. Same event, two very different impressions.
So, this is why I think it is so important for us to spend the next two weeks reflecting intensely upon the passion of Christ. Because we have all heard this story so many times, we forget just how amazing a story this really is. Jesus suffered, he died. He did it for us. Because of this sacrifice, he has opened the door for our salvation.
I would like to recommend two beautiful devotions that you could try these two weeks to help you reflect upon the passion of Christ. First, there are the stations of the cross. This afternoon we will pray the stations throughout the neighborhood. We also have the stations at 1:00 and 6:30 on Friday. But, you can pray these anytime either by stopping in here at church, or by praying these at home. I still remember that as a child we used to pray the stations in our living room as a family. Each child took a turn reading the reflections on the stations. I really like the stations devotion. I find that reflecting on these 14 events in the life of Christ really helps me to understand all that Christ did to save us.
The other devotion that I would recommend is the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary. The more I pray the rosary, the more I find it an amazing prayer. The five sorrowful mysteries encompass the suffering of Christ, but I also think that all human suffering can be found in these mysteries. The agony of the garden represents all emotional and spiritual turmoil. The scourging of the pillar represents all suffering we receive from others. The crowing of thorns represents all pain as a result of sarcasm and mockery. The carrying of the cross represents chronic and long-term suffering, daily struggles. The crucifixion represents all suffering associated with death. It seems like all human suffering fits in there somewhere. So, when you pray the sorrowful mysteries you can find a place to unite your own sufferings to that of Christ.
Reflecting on the passion of Christ is a wonderful spiritual exercise. He called it his hour of glory. Therefore, it is a very fruitful place to spend some time. Make time these next two weeks to reflect on the passion. Use the stations or the sorrowful mysteries as a way to enter into the very sufferings of Christ. We heard today: son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered. How much more for us? We too will learn obedience to God’s will through our own sufferings and by reflecting on the sufferings of Christ.