Fifth Sunday of Lent

Scriptures:     Jeremiah 31:31-34;      Hebrews 5:7-9;     John 12:20-33

I would guess we struggle a bit when we hear around suffering, about death, especially today, since our society does not want us to think about or entertain thoughts about pain, suffering or death.

You may have heard the comments of Pope Francis, on possible threats to his safety, “I told the Lord, ‘You take care of me.   But if Your will is that I die or that they do something to me, I ask a favor:  that is does not hurt, because I am a big wimp when it comes to physical pain.'”

We may wish that every moment would be as the singer Pharrell Williams sings, “Happy.” (from the movie:  “Despicable Me 2”)

Even the United Nations celebrated the International Day of Happiness on March 20 throughout the world.       (Hope you did not miss it)

Obviously, we know that there is pain and suffering and death in our world, maybe among us, maybe personally.   Pain, suffering, death… are real.

But as Disciples of Jesus Christ, we also know that pain, suffering, even death can change us; even bring us “Life.”

“Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but it if dies, it produces much fruit.”

Where in our lives is our God asking us to die?  Put another way, where is God asking us change our ways, to change our attitudes… to change?

Bishop Scharfenberger, in his weekly column in the Evangelist shared with the people of the Diocese of Albany that, “entire parish communities are engaged in the process of making difficult decisions about the best use of their resources – which, in some cases, may mean significant changes in the internal and external structuring of their Faith Communities.”

We know from past experiences this is difficult.  There is a dying that goes on when a Parish closes or consolidates.  Yet do we believe, at least somewhere deep down in our being, that “New Life” will come out of difficult decisions or difficult times?

I would guess many say sure, no problem to making difficult decisions.  But when it happens in my parish, what’s our response?  How will we give comfort to others and together more forward, and give and bring New Life to the Community of Faith that is “evolving.”  Something to certainly think about.

One author has shared that, no matter our suffering, our pain… as real as it is:   “Jesus absorbed terrible pain in his passion, but did not pass it on.”  The author suggests, “we imitate Jesus, especially in our suffering, and not pass on our pain by ‘making other people miserable.’”