“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” (Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”)

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.

During the season of Lent, we are invited to dig deeper into some fundamental questions about our existence: life and death, identity, belonging, choices, and so on. Some of these issues are just too difficult and painful to contemplate but are unavoidable nonetheless. This week’s Gospel reading from John invites us to confront the meaning of life and death, not in a threatening way but gently, peeling off layers of fear and brokenness to reveal the light and hope hidden in one of the darkest moments in our life.

This week’s readings reveal the mission of Jesus; He comes among us not to gain praises or power for himself but to glorify His Father. He fully understands and freely accepts the difficult path that He must tread to fulfill His Father’s will: “‘I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’” (Jn 12:27). He willingly bears the entire weight of the anxiety and uneasiness in anticipation of “the kind of death he would die” (Jn 12:33). Jesus’ humanity may have weighed Him down but His divinity uplifts Him to acknowledge that, “But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name” (Jn 12:27). Just as the American poet, Robert Frost, reflects in “The Road Not Taken”, Jesus sees two paths diverge ahead of Him on the eve of the Passover Feast. Not without struggle, He braves the one less travelled by and “that has made all the difference” (Frost).

What does this less travelled path look like for Jesus? For each one of us? For Jesus, this path is full of heartbreaks, danger, and pain. His friends betray and eventually abandon Him; heavily armed soldiers arrest Him and bring Him before the Sanhedrin to be trialed; He is tortured and finally nailed on the cross, suffering a slow and painful death. Yet, He sticks to this narrow road, “he learned obedience from what he suffered” (Heb 5:8). Jesus explains the necessity of His sacrifice for our salvation, “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” (Jn 12:24). How shall we even begin to respond to such great love and sacrifice? Jesus shows us the way, “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” (Jn 12:25-26).

Therefore, the road less travelled for each one of us is the way of Christ. We must humbly ask God to “create a clean heart … a steadfast spirit renew within [us]” that we may know and love God “with all [our] heart, and with all [our] soul, and with all [our] might” (Ps 51: 10,12; Dt 6:5). With God’s Spirit dwelling in us, we are empowered to face difficult choices and all the hills and valleys along life’s journey. Though the path is narrow and full of obstacles, we tread with a confidence that comes from knowing God and trusting in His promise: “I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer 31:33). Just as the Son of God chooses to fulfill His Father’s will, we, too, pray that we will have the faith and courage to follow Jesus’ footsteps. Indeed, God has our back! He said, “do not fear, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (Is 41:10).

Posted: March 21, 2021

Susanna Mak

 
Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.


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