We are also sending out copies of the next edition of our local Ordinariate Magazine. If anyone would like us to send them a copy please let me know. I can send them in pdf format by email, or paper via royal mail.
Thoughts on Passion Sunday:
Our gospel reading is filled with poignancy and gravity. There is so much all happening at once.
So first of all some Greek-speaking non-Jews come to Philip asking to speak to Jesus. These were those who were converted to Judaism from paganism. Now they here about Jesus and want to speak to Him. It is a poignant moment for Jesus because so far it is to the Jews that He brings the message of the Kingdom of God, but He now announces that salvation is to come to all people. And so He announces that His Kingdom is to be extended to all (not just to Jews):
..and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself...But this announcement is not just a simple message. Because embedded in Christ's announcement comes a message from heaven. Before this, Christ has revealed the way in which we bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. And very conscious of what this is going to mean for Him, He says that we must die for the Kingdom of God. “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
Jesus will die and the universal (catholic) church will be born. Jesus allows His lifeless body to be laid in the tomb, in the earth, then in rising from death His same body rises, glorified, and through His glorified body He will communicate to His followers His resurrected life.
The law for all life is that for it to be fruitful there must be a dying. It is easy to speak about dying when it is far from coming true – it is very different speaking about it when you know it is around the corner. Jesus knows it is coming. Following Christ is a path of discipleship that must include dying in order to bear fruit. Jesus makes it quite clear, and we cannot escape it. Any form of Christianity that does not acknowledge that being a disciple includes much pain and suffering, a dying to self, is no real Christianity at all!
Jesus teaches it but knows the reality too and He expresses His anguish of soul, exclaiming to the Father - “Father glorify your Name!” He offers His anguish to God, and for it all to glorify the Father. And then reality impinges in that very moment and some hear a voice, or a noise, or a thunder. For Christ it is the voice of the Father, “I have glorified it and I will glorify it again.”
Jesus then goes on to say that sentence is now being passed on the world. What does He mean? Well what can we say about a world that responds to the man who is good in every way, who always speaks the truth, who has healed and forgiven sins – what do we say about that world if it decides the best thing to do is to crucify that man? This is the judgement of the world. Despite what sometimes passed from their lips, the world opposed God in reality. When God became flesh, the world tried to do away with Him, tried to extinguish God.
As followers of Christ we too must face the world and know that it will oppose God, and also us if we stand up for God. As the world crucified Jesus, so the ungodly world will also try to eradicate His followers. We have to face this reality. If we stand up for marriage as Jesus taught it, then the world will very likely oppose us. If we stand up for the sanctity of life in the womb, then the world will very likely oppose us. If we stand up for the sanctity of life of the dying, then the world will very likely oppose us. And the more we stand up for the Kingdom of God, the more the world will try to undermine us and do away with us. We are disciples of Jesus who despite all the signs He performed, despite all the people He healed, despite all the profound teaching He gave, became the most unpopular of people whose own disciples disowned Him.
If the Catholic Faith is not to die out in Western Europe, Catholics have to be prepared to stand up for Christ and proclaim their faith in Him and the truth He taught, and that will make us unpopular and inconvenient. We need to get used to this. Our job is not to be popular, but to be truthful. The society in which we live is moving away further and further from God and the truth, and that means we need to be prepared to walk the way of the cross, and to realise that “unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”