March 21, 2021
I will put my law within it and write it in their hearts;
I will be their God and they will be my people.
Christ, even as a Son, learned, suffering, to obey.
Jesus took the floor and said:
“And when I am raised upon the earth, I will draw everyone to me.”
Reading the book of Jeremiah 31, 31-34
“Days are coming—oracle of the Lord—when I will make the house of Israel and the house of Judah a new covenant. It will not be an alliance like the one I made with their parents, when I took them by the hand to get them out of Egypt, for they broke my covenant, even though I was their Lord—oracle of the Lord.
This will be the covenant I will make with them after those days—the Lord’s oracle—: I will put my law within them and write it in their hearts; I will be their God and they will be my people. They will no longer have to teach each other by saying:
‘Know the Lord’, for everyone will know me, from the smallest to the greatest—oracle of the Lord—when he forgives his guilt and no longer remembers his sins.
Come out 50, 3-4. 12-13. 14-15
Oh, God, create a pure heart in me.
Mercy, my God, for your kindness, for your immense compassion erases my guilt;
completely washes away my crime, cleanses my sin. R/.
O God, believe in me a pure heart, renew me inside in a firm spirit.
Don’t throw me away from your face, don’t take away your holy spirit. R/.
Give me back the joy of your salvation, hold me in a generous spirit.
I will teach the wicked your ways, sinners will return to you. R/.
Reading the Letter to the Hebrews 5, 7-9
Christ, in the days of his mortal life, crying and tearfully, presented prayers and pleas to him who could save him from death, being heard by his filial piety.
And even as a Son, he learned, suffering, to obey. And, led to consummation, he became, for all who obey him, the author of eternal salvation.
Reading the Holy Gospel according to John 12, 20-33
At that time, among those who had come to celebrate the feast were some Greeks; these, approaching Philip, that of Bethsaida of Galilee, begged him:
“Lord, we want to see Jesus.”
Philip went to tell Andrew; and Andrew and Philip went to tell Jesus.
Jesus answered them:
“The time has come for the Son of man to be glorified. In truth, I truly say unto you, if the grain of wheat does not fall to the ground and die, it is unhappy; but if he dies, it bears a lot of fruit. He who loves himself is lost, and he who hates himself in this world will be saved for eternal life. Whoever wants to serve me, follow me, and wherever I am, there will also be my servant; whoever serves me, the Father will honor him.
Now my soul is agitated, and what will I say? Father, get me out of this hour? But if this is why I have come, by this hour: Father, glorify your name.”
Then came a voice from heaven:
“I have glorified him and I will glorify him again.”
The people who were there and heard it said it had been thunder; others said an angel had spoken to him.
Jesus took the floor and said:
“This voice has not come for me, but for you. Now the world will be judged; now the prince of this world is going to be thrown out. And when I am raised on earth, I will draw everyone to me.”
I was saying this by implying the death that he was going to die.
On the eve of Holy Week, today’s Word of God introduces us to the profound meaning of the mystery we will celebrate in a few days. God wanted to widen and extend His Covenant with the people of Israel to all mankind. He wanted to universalize it, extend it to all the peoples of the earth and history. And he does so through the sacrifice of his Son, his only Son, on the Cross. A new alliance, a renewed friendship, a unique communion not supported by external norms and fulfillments but by endearing love and mercy that unites free hearts, that of God and that of each of us; a religion inscribed in the depths of every human being, and which discovers in itself as it seeks and discovers God in Christ as its Creator, Lord, and Savior.
How good it would be if all Christians, from our experience of God, invited others to know Him so that in Him they would recognize themselves and discover the wonder for which we have been created and placed in life, for love and to love. And on that path we only progress if we look at Christ crucified and identify with Him, perfect synthesis of divine and human love, what God wanted to give us and what we from Christ’s humanity can give to God.
What does the crucified Christ have that draws so many to Himself? We can’t put it into words. A few years ago, in one of my parishes, by the way, very colorful and populated with images, I asked a group of young children no more than four years old, what was the image they liked the most. I immediately thought they would tell me any of the beautiful and beautiful images of the Virgin Mary, Jesus or any other saint. To my astonishment I was pointed out with their fingers aloft to a crucified Christ. Later, the following year, I did the “experiment” with another similar group of children again and the result was the same. I was pointed out to the same crucified Christ. Only this time I dared to ask them why of their choice. And one of the most vivarachos, after a long silence, dared to say to me, “Because he is naked and has a yaya (wounded) on his foot.” In addition to being moved and fulfilled in those children the words of Jesus of today’s Gospel – I will attract everyone to me – I realized that indeed the Crucified One was the only naked and wounded image, with which they could identify more and better, for their humanity, for their truth, for their poverty, for their weakness, for their silence , for the tenderness and surrendered love they exhale from it. How many crises, moments of darkness, suffering, enmities, pains are diluted by looking at Christ crucified, naked and wounded! How many clothes we have left in the life behind which we sweeten reality, hide our miseries, fail to truth, accommodate religion! How necessary it is to look again at Christ crucified with the gaze of these children, without prejudice or complex, appreciating what hurts me and identifies me with Him!
I borrow for this commentary the reflection that Pope Francis offered a couple of years ago on the text of today’s Gospel:
“Whoever wants to know Jesus must look inside the cross, where his glory is revealed. In the image of Jesus crucified, the mystery of the Son’s death is revealed as a supreme act of love, a source of life and salvation for humanity of all times. And to explain the meaning of his death and resurrection, Jesus used an image: If the grain of wheat does not fall to the ground and die, he is left alone; but if he dies, it bears a lot of fruit. He wants to imply that his extreme case – that is, the cross, death and resurrection – is an act of fruitfulness – his wounds have healed us – a fruitfulness that will bear fruit for many. Thus he compares himself to the grain of wheat that rotting in the earth generates new life. With the Incarnation, Jesus came to earth; but he must also die, to rescue men from the bondage of sin and give them a new life reconciled in love. And this dynamism of the grain of wheat, fulfilled in Jesus, must also be performed in us his disciples: we are called to make our own that Easter law of losing our lives in order to receive it new and eternal. And what does it mean to lose your life? I mean, what does it mean to be the grain of wheat? It means thinking less about themselves, personal interests and knowing how to ‘see’ and meet the needs of our neighbor, especially the latter. Doing with joy works of charity to those who suffer in body or spirit is the most authentic way of living the Gospel, it is the necessary foundation for our communities to grow in fraternity and in mutual acceptance”.
A few years ago I heard that a missionary had this phrase written in his room: “Grain of wheat, how much it costs you to die!” Every day he would look at her and tell her to himself. Until one day he became seriously ill and transferred to a hospital. As he visited his friends and offered to help him in whatever he needed, he said, “Bring me the phrase I have written in my room to keep saying it to the end: grain of wheat, how much it costs you to die!” May we never tire, as servants of Christ, of being sown and fruitful grain that dies to bear fruit, that will sprout and come far beyond the moment we live, the people we know, and the land on which we are sown.
Also in this Holy Week, in the midst of the pandemic that plagues us and so many other difficulties and deficiencies, the crucified Christ will be raised again to be the light and salvation of all who believe and trust in Him, He will give our lives again for each of us as the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies to be fruitful. Let’s look at him with hope.
O Cross of Christ
O Cross of Christ, symbol of divine love and human injustice, icon of the supreme sacrifice for love and extreme selfishness by foolishness, instrument of death and way of resurrection, sign of obedience and emblem of betrayal, a gallows of persecution and banner of victory.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you risen in our murdered sisters and brothers, burned alive, slit and beheaded by barbaric swords and infamous silence.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the faces of children, women, and exhausted and frightened people fleeing wars and violence, and who often only find death and so many Pilates washing their hands.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the doctors of the letter and not of the spirit, of death and not of life who, instead of teaching mercy and life, threaten punishment and death and condemn the righteous.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in unfaithful ministers who, instead of stripping themselves of their own ambitions, strip even the innocent of their own dignity.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the hardened hearts of those who comfortably judge others, hearts willing to condemn them even to stoning, without ever looking at their own sins and faults.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the fundamentalisms and terrorism that desecrate the name of God and use it to justify its unheard of violence.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in those who want to remove you from public places and exclude you from public life, in the name of a certain secularist paganism or even in the name of equality that you yourself have taught us.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the powerful and the arms dealers who feed the furnaces of war with the innocent blood of the brethren, and feed their children bloodied bread.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the traitors who by thirty denrii deliver to death to anyone.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in thieves and the corrupt who instead of safeguarding the common good and ethics are sold in the miserable market of immorality.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the fools who build deposits to preserve treasures that perish, letting Lazarus starve to death at his doorstep.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the destroyers of nature, our “common house”, which selfishly ruin the future of future generations.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the elderly abandoned by their own relatives, in the disabled, in the malnourished children and discarded by our selfish and hypocritical society.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the Mediterranean Sea, in the Aegean Sea and other seas turned into an insatiable cemetery, image of our insensitive conscience and anesthetized in the face of emigration and the right to freedom.
O Cross of Christ, image of boundless love and way of the Resurrection, even today we continue to see you in the good and righteous people who do good without seeking the applause or admiration of others.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the faithful and humble ministers who illuminate the darkness of our lives, as candles that are consumed free of charge to illuminate the lives of the last.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the face of religious and consecrated women – the good Samaritans – who leave everything to bandage, in evangelical silence, the wounds of poverty and injustice.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the merciful who find in mercy the highest expression of justice and faith.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in simple people who live with joy their faith in ordinary things and faithful fulfillment of the commandments.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the repentant who, from the depths of the misery of their sins, know how to shout: Lord remember me when you are in your kingdom.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the blessed and the saints who know how to go through the darkness of the night of faith without losing confidence in you and without pretending to understand your mysterious silence.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in families who live their marriage vocation faithfully and fruitfully.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in the volunteers who generously help those in need and mistreated.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in those persecuted by their faith who with their suffering continue to bear authentic witness of Jesus and the Gospel.
O Cross of Christ, even today we continue to see you in dreamers who live with a hearts of children and work every day to make the world a better, more humane and more just place.
In you, the Holy Cross, we see God who loves to the extreme, and we see the hatred that dominates and blinds the hearts and minds of those who prefer darkness to light.
O Cross of Christ, Ark of Noah who saved mankind from the flood of sin, deliver us from evil and evil. O Throne of David and seal of the divine and eternal Covenant, wake us from the seductions of vanity. O cry of love, arouse in us the desire of God, good and light.
O Cross of Christ, show us that the dawn of the sun is stronger than the darkness of the night. O Cross of Christ, show us that the apparent victory of evil fades before the empty tomb and in the face of the certainty of the Resurrection and the love of God, that nothing can defeat or obscure or weaken it.