The narrow and wide gates

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Jeremiah 31:31-34

The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant, and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.

Hebrews 5:7-9

In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

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.

It is human nature to look for shortcuts, seeking for an easy path especially when we go throughsuffering. Yet, we all know that suffering and death are part of life, something we need to accept and embrace with love and courage, instead of to avoid with denial or fear. However, the trend of this world is to attempt to avoid suffering and pain at all cost, increasingly in the name of compassion.

As can be witnessed during natural disasters, compassionate love is often expressed and made complete through suffering. It brings out the noble face of humanity which is a reflection of God’s image. People in many countries are advocating for euthanasia in the name of compassion. But real compassion requires real companionship, like what Mother Mary did for Jesus during His Passion, sharing His suffering. They both know that there is a purpose for His Passion. And Jesus willingly goes through all sufferings and offers up His life to bring about salvation for all.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

Through His Passion, Jesus has shown us the way to follow God’s will and to embrace our own passion and that of our loved ones. Like the dying of the grain of wheat and the pruning of the branches which are necessary passages to new life, the afflictions we experience in this life are necessary passages to attain holiness, preparing ourselves for eternal life. The fruits will be plentiful as we die to ourselves through which we are sanctified and God glorified. Seeking shortcuts will not only strip away true human dignity and the expression of real compassionate love, but will also deprive ourselves and our loved ones of the opportunity to blossom and bear great fruits of life.

Other Sunday Reflections

Spiritual Talk – 5th Sunday of Lent 何庭耀神父

This Sunday is the 5th Sunday of Lent (Year B) and Fr. Anthony Ho explains to us Jesus’ analogy of the seed to prophesy His death and resurrection in the Gospel of John. He expounds on the meaning of sacrifice and the important role of Martyrs in the Church. He also talks about the Feast of the Annunciation and reminds us to always seek out and obey the will of God.

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Paul Yeung

Executive Director of Fountain of Love and Life (FLL).