APRIL 3, 2012-TUESDAY OF HOLY WEEK:ISAIAH 49:1-9 ; JOHN 12:21-33,36-38

NOW IS THE SON OF MAN GLORIFIED. The more familiar we become with the details of the Paschal mystery, the greater the change in our consciousness of the meaning of life. Surely these words of today’s Gospel account present us with an altogether unexpected and paradoxical evaluation of the sufferings and death of our Savior that we cannot hope to grasp their import without strenuous effort. For one thing, rightly to appreciate the fact that Jesus refers to the sufferings and humiliations he is to undergo as a glorification proved impossible for his apostles at the time. In spite of the repeated warnings that he was to be put to death in Jerusalem, his closest followers proved unable to assimilate such unwelcome happenings. Even on this occasion, the night when he was to be arrested shortly after making this statement, he met with lack of understanding. For when he added that in a little while he was to leave them, we are told Peter asked Jesus “Where are you going?” He did not even now realize that Jesus was preparing his disciples for the shameful death that he was on the point of meeting.

By the time John wrote this account of the discourse at the last supper, our Lord had been crucified and risen from the dead more than fifty years. During that period Many of our Lord’s followers had themselves met with rejection, suffering and violent death from the authorities. Included among them were such close associates as Peter, James, and Andrew. Paul too had given his life as a witness to the teaching and example of the Lord. After the Resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit, it proved possible for many to understand the fuller implications and meaning of our Lord’s passion. Only through living out the message of the cross in the uncomprehending world of their time did the early Church grasp the mysterious ways of God’s plan of Salvation. The witness of a faith stronger than death that Jesus was giving as he spoke of his coming sufferings was made clear to his followers only after his glory was manifested in the resurrection. It proved possible to appropriate his meaning once they had received the grace of the Holy Spirit. Having received that grace the faithful understood how Jesus could speak of his painful death as a glorification.

“The message of the cross”, Saint Paul taught, “is foolishness to those who are perishing. But to those who are being saved, that is, to us, it is the power of God.”(1 Cor 1:18) And so, as Paul and many after him discovered by their own experience, living faith in the glorified Jesus became a source of sufficient strength that they overcame the world’s hostility and found in their rejection and sufferings that glory given by the Father to those who put their faith in his beloved son. We do well to take this message to heart in our own present situation in this country when our current government has enacted legislation that does serious violence to our Catholic faith. Thoughtful and well informed men speak of oppression and even of persecution. Many Protestants and believing Jews have joined with our Catholic bishops in protesting these anti-religious measures that violate the faith and conscience of believers in the revealed truths of the Christian and Hebrew faith. Unless the current policy of our President and the Congress changes decisively all the faithful will be called upon to witness to the primacy of conscience over all other considerations. History has placed faith in Christ in similar tests of fidelity not only in the Church of the apostles and their immediate followers, but repeatedly through the ages. Even in recent times in Russia, China, North Korea and the Sudan there have been thousands who followed our Lord’s example and teaching by confronting hostile authorities with a living faith and a love for God stronger than death. In this Holy week and at the Eucharist we renew our commitment to that same faith that Jesus bore witness to when he spoke the words of this Gospel: “Now is the Son of man gloried, and God is glorified in Him.” W 

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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