Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More
by Angela M Jendro
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4th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Someone may say to you one day, “[Your Name], I would like to see Jesus.” Imagine that for a moment and take it in. A person looking to you with a hopeful and somewhat anxious expression, addressing you by name, and depending on you to connect them to Christ.
“Why me?” you might say. In a secular culture void of God, searching souls see Christ from a distance and feel more at a loss to find their way to Him than you may think. Your relationship with Jesus, and their relationship with you, may be the bridge they need.
Yet, to be Christ’s light and love in the world, to be a bridge, demands a serious choice which will decide the trajectory of your whole life. Jesus made this choice, and so must each of His followers. The choice – to live for yourself or to live for the Lord, to build a life of your own making or to build the kingdom of God.
A grain of wheat, in and of itself, is small and insignificant – enough to feed only a bird. Yet, within it lies tremendous potential – enough to feed human persons. The movement from potential to actuality however begins with death. If a grain were a conscious soul with a mind and will, it would see before it a decision:
- Go on living as a seed for itself, unchanged and comfortable.
- Surrender itself to the Creator, be broken apart in death and then transformed into something new and quite different from its experience as a seed.
Although the second option sounds scary, to grow and change also entails being lifted up from the ground, becoming tall stalks of wheat, and finally, maturing to the point where it can be picked as harvest for others. The first choice may be easier, but the second adds so much more meaning to its life.
As Jesus’ Hour approached – His Passion and Death, He came to the final crossroads of His decision. He had said Yes to the Father when He agreed to become man at the incarnation, He had said No to Satan’s temptations in the desert, and now as His ultimate sacrifice approached He weighed His decision aloud for His disciples to hear and one day imitate.
Jesus didn’t want to suffer but He did want to save us. So, what was He really to do? Christ’s magnanimous love refused to live for Himself, so He chose the path to the Cross. He chose to die that He might be lifted up – on the Cross and in His Resurrection – and thereby bear fruit that gives all mankind who plucks it eternal life.
To be Christ’s disciples, we need to be nourished by Him first. Under the appearance of wheat bread in the host, He gives His very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity to us in the Eucharist. With this union and grace, He begins His work transforming our souls, if we let Him.
He starts by breaking down sin and selfishness. Dying to ourselves marks the first stage of development. Thus prayer, fasting, and almsgiving facilitate this process by putting God first, denying ourselves pleasures, and opening ourselves up to the poor around us.
From this death to self however, which no doubt is painful, emerges transformation. Sin and self at bay, Christ is more free to build virtues within us and to grow authentic Christian love. The process snowballs positively as the greater one loves, the easier sacrifice becomes. In full Christian development, love is so perfected that it, like Christ, can’t bear to choose pleasure or comfort over love of God and neighbor. We experience something of this in human loves between parent and child, spouses, or dear friends. In loving relationships, giving of one’s self or possessions is felt to be an opportunity rather than a burden.
In this fifth week of Lent, you may be feeling the pain of perseverance in the commitments you made Ash Wednesday. However, the more weak you feel on your own, the more reliant you become on Christ and His grace to support you. Have hope, we are past the midpoint! Just as there can be no Easter Sunday without Good Friday, we can’t truly feast until we’ve fasted. The more we enter in to Lent, the more joy we will experience during Easter.
Like Jesus, we might pray to the Father:
|“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour.” (v.27)|
We choose death to self because we desire life in Christ – which we know to be much happier, peaceful, and fulfilling than anything we could construct for ourselves. We don’t die for its own sake but rather to receive greater life.
Jesus teaches, “If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also” (v.26). In consequence, as we approach Holy Week we endeavor to be with our Lord wherever He is – at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, at the Cross on Good Friday, waiting in anticipation Holy Saturday, and rejoicing in His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
If we persevere and remain near to Christ, those near to us can be blessed by His Presence too. Our lived discipleship might drive out the lies of Satan with Christ’s Truth. You could be a witness that Christ brings true happiness to someone disillusioned by the world’s false promises. Your unconditional love could drive out the lie that someone is only as valuable as they are useful. Your forgiveness could cast out the temptation of despair with the truth of mercy.
Christ’s saving love draws everyone to Himself. If we allow ourselves to be conformed to Him, we just might be that bridge to Christ for someone’s salvation, or that stalk of wheat which they pluck to receive our Lord for the first time.
- Meditate on the words, “we would like to see Jesus.” Make this your prayer to the Holy Spirit and spend 5 minutes in silent prayer listening.
- Consider Christ’s gift of self for you. Pray about how you might give more of yourself to Him and to others.
- How does your life witness your faith to others, and in what ways do you sometimes hide your faith?
- Are you a joyful or a gloomy Christian?
- In conversations, does your speech reflect your Christian values or do you participate in gossip or vulgar jokes.
- Do you speak about your church or priest with respect or are you overly critical?
- Do you reach out to persons at work or in your neighborhood who seem to be friendless or having a tough time, or are you too focused on your own life?
- Do you greet people with a smile? (one of Mother Teresa’s common suggestions)
- Invite someone to Mass or Bible Study with you this week.
- Pray with someone this week.
- Intentionally greet each person with a smile, even if you don’t feel like it.
- Pray the Stations of the Cross. Meditatively be with Christ at each step.
All Rights Reserved © 2020 Angela M Jendro