Let Go!


5th Sunday of Lent

Fr. Ed Hampson

Preached: March 17, 2024

There are moments in all our lives that just seem to call for our attention, moments that speak to us, shape us, call us to take a certain path or move forward into a place we know we need to go to, even ‘though we don’t have all the answers we’d like.   Like those moments when we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place.

We can think of people who find themselves confronted with a choice between paying for food or paying the rent;  or the city councillor who struggles with maintaining her responsibilities or recognizing the need for budget cuts; or the spouse who is faced with whether or not to speak with his beloved about an uncomfortable truth   or ..continue to ignore the problem so that it doesn’t have a chance to get resolved…those are pretty uncomfortable places to be in & ALL of us experience them.

. . . Sometimes though, there can be a way forward even in situations where we thought it was impossible.  Have you ever heard of the “moving rocks of Death Valley?”  This actually does happen; rocks that move.  They’re a type of “sailing stone” that actually moves across the face of the ground..  up to 5 meters a minute!  Scientists have worked on understanding that mystery for years…  & have a number of theories.  It’s an image of moving forward.. when we think it’s impossible.


 A teenager named Sean who attended high school in a certain city & was walking from the bus stop to his Dad’s place when he suddenly became aware he was being flanked by two suspicious characters.  One of them said to him “Give me your wallet.”  Sean refused: “No.” . . “This is a gun. Give me your wallet or I’ll shoot.” . . “No.”  . .  “Hey fool, you don’t get it.  We’re robbing you.  Give me your wallet.” ..  “No way.”  . . “Give me your wallet or I’ll knife you.”  . .”No.”  ……. By now the thugs were actually whining.  “Give me your wallet or we’ll beat you up.”  . . ”No.”   ….. And after Sean continued on his way a bit further he noticed he was no longer being flanked by the would-be robbers.  When he got to his Dad’s place & told him what had happened, his Dad asked him “Weren’t you scared?”  And Sean said  “Of course.  What else would I be?” . .  “Well why didn’t you give them your wallet?”   And Sean looked his Dad straight in the eye & said   “My G1 learner’s permit was in it!”  ……………….  Sean was not going to be caught between a rock and a hard place.

Most of the time  most of us  have all kinds of reasons  to hang on.  It’s what we do.  We grasp.   We try  so very hard  to hang on to what we have..  to what we know or think we know .. to what we believe.  …to what we’re comfortable with.  Just try taking some people’s cell phone away from them.  But that hanging on can keep us locked into those impossible places in our lives where we’re between a rock and a hard place. Our ‘hanging on’ can keep us where we don’t want to be..  and keep us from getting to where we’re called to be.  And experience shows us that this is not only true practically, it’s true spiritually as well.

In today’s gospel we hear Jesus say something that resounds in the minds & hearts of many of us because these words have found their way into our lives at some point over the years: Jesus says “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth & dies, it bears no fruit.”  Wise words.  Many of us have learned to think of these words in relation to Jesus’ death & resurrection.

But   these words  had already been true in Jesus’ life, many times before.  Like when he sensed it was time to begin his public ministry: he’d had a life before that… he would have had to let go in order to become more of who he was..  fulfil the destiny he was here for;  in order to freely go to the Jordan River & be baptized & experience temptation, & begin his public ministry.  …….. And that choosing not to cling, that freedom to let go, was, of course, the very essence of his coming to us in the first place.. not clinging to his divine life, but choosing to become one of us, in order to come amongst us.

 Once upon a time I had a marriage & family therapy professor, Peter Van Katwyk, who liked to try to get us to think about this kind of challenge in our lives by inviting us to imagine ourselves as part of a flying trapeze act in a circus.  You swing back & forth on your trapeze as your partner is doing the same on the other trapeze.  But in order for the act to go on, you have to let go of your trapeze & trust that your partner will catch you.   I’ve seen that freedom in the lives of people I’ve known. 

Like a woman who made significant sacrifices in order to free her husband to complete his studies in another country.  And a teacher who gave a lifetime of service to a small rural school in spite of opportunities to move up the educational ladder in more urban areas, and a mother who gave up a career in order to care for her developmentally challenged daughter at home, and a husband who did not get tenure at the university that employed him because he put his responsibilities as a father before his research and publication. 

And an 80 year old woman, dying in the hospital, who was so thankful for her life, & wished it could go on, but chose not to cling to her own dreams.  Instead, to die with gratitude, & grace & dignity so that her faith could be a witness to her family & friends.  Each of them, in different parishes & different places  have been a source of inspiration ..  & have strengthened the faith of others… including my own. 

In today’s gospel some Greeks came to Philip who went to Andrew because they wanted to see Jesus.  But the truth was, at that point, it would only have been more of the same: people wanting to see for themselves, test his reputation for themselves, know first hand what he was about.  But by this time,  Jesus’ future, his destiny, the next step on his path forward into his own darkness had become clear. 

In one way he was facing an abyss. He was between a rock & a hard place. He had reached the point where he was no longer called to cling to what he had known.. or even who he had known.  He had taught the disciples & taught the crowds, he’d shown them by example and by relationship what he was about.. & what they were being called to be about.  But now the time had come to make the purpose of his mission & ministry unmistakably clear  forever;    it was time to let go.  No more clinging,  no more hanging on.                          

We do tend to hang on.  We hang on to what we know, what we’re comfortable with, what we get used to, what we can control.  The crowds wanted to hang on to Jesus’, even the disciples wanted to hang on to him, keep things the way they were, make it all safe.  But that was not where he was being called to go now.  

They needed to see the bigger picture in which ALL of it made sense.  They needed to recognize & know God beyond the limits of their own making and even beyond their own understanding.  They needed to see & know God’s gift of everlasting life  bursting apart  the constraints imposed by sin & fear & all of that hanging on.  And the only way for that to happen was for Jesus to listen to the Voice from above & the Voice within, and step forward, away from the safety he’d had, and allow himself to move into the darkness; it was time to let go of it all and trust his heavenly Father.

It’s a strange path to glory, isn’t it?  And yet, it was only when Jesus became that grain of wheat, cast down to the earth, suffered, died, & was buried, that he also became high & lifted up, the exquisite eternal expression of God’s love for each & every one of us.

One week from now Holy Week begins.   There will be Palm Sunday, the Mass of Chrism at the Cathedral, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, the Solemn Liturgy on Good Friday, the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, and the Easter Sunday Masses.  And all of that…  ALL of that  is because Jesus  let go.  He said ‘yes’ to what lay before him, and trusted his heavenly Father.  That yes’ my friends, HIS ‘yes’   he  said  for  you  &  me   Amen.

Tags: ,
Previous Post
wasing of the feet

Be People Of Humble Service

Next Post

Grace: God’s Free Gift