Fifth Sunday of Lent

Lectionary: 35

"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."



The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary begin with Jesus' "Agony in the Garden." The story is told with much detail in the synoptic gospels. Because we ponder this mystery often, we are acutely aware of Jesus' human nature and must feel great compassion for him. 

He entered the Garden of Gethsemane after sunset on that spring day a healthy young man; he would die before the sun set a second time. Realizing what was to happen, this human being felt such a deep dread that his knees buckled and he fell to the ground.
John tells us of Jesus' encounter with his tormentors in the Garden but his agony appears in today's gospel, before his Last Supper. It is only a moment. He remembers his Father and his purpose; and immediately surrenders, "Father, glorify your name." 

As a preacher, I would be foolish to conclude, "We should do as Jesus does!" Who can totally yield to "God's will" as Jesus does with no more than a moment's hesitation? In fact we might suppose the Evangelists gave us this dramatic story only to reemphasize his "human side." As they describe him, Jesus never hesitates to follow the promptings of God's Spirit. I cannot lay on other people a burden that I cannot carry. 


But we can reflect together on the beauty of Jesus' intimacy with his God, whom he calls Father and Abba. This is a revelation of the triune nature of our God, a mystery beyond comprehension and yet so compelling as we study the Gospel and celebrate our sacraments. The mystery is not simply an enigma of one and three, three and one; some kind of bizarre mathematical formula. 

Rather, it is a mystery of personal communion. To know Jesus is to know he is obedient to his Father. He says only what the Father has commanded him to speak. He does nothing which he has not seen his Father do. 
“Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also.
root of a fallen tree by
the creek at MSF
As John tells the story, the events of Holy Week reveal the glory of God, beginning with chapter 13, the Last Supper and the disturbing scene of Jesus' washing his disciples' feet. He directs our attention continually to the humiliation of God, his kenosis. Not only does Jesus abase himself before his disciples, the Jewish authorities, the mob, the Roman soldiers and procurator, he pours out the last measure of himself as blood, water and spirit flow from his wasted body. There is nothing left to give.
But this kenosis reveals the Glory of God, for he has done only what his Father did in giving Jesus all authority in heaven and earth. Is it possible that a man has such authority? That he should have it? That he has earned it somehow? 
This Fifth Sunday of Lent prepares us to walk with Jesus through Holy Week, and to see what is beyond all comprehension. It is more than Truth, which flusters the mind; it is Beauty, which captivates the heart.

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.