Fifth Sunday of Lent – Year B
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: Mar 18 2018
Jesus says, “where I am, there will my servant be also.” We are to be where Jesus is. So, where will we find Jesus today, in our world, in your life? A good examination of our conscience is to ask ourselves, where is Jesus today, where would Jesus be today?
Where will we find Jesus today?
- Parents – start at home, with your own children. Find Jesus there in them, including when they are difficult, when they are struggling, when they are having trouble at school, when you find them involved with drugs, be there for Jesus is there to bring healing, mercy.
- Grandparents – find Jesus in your grandchildren. Love and pray for them as Jesus with them.
- The Church, you and I, we need to find Jesus in the poor, the homeless, refugees, those struggling with mental illness, the lonely, the elderly, the sick, all those marginalized within our society for whatever reason. There is where we will find Jesus.
Now, what prevents us from going to be where Jesus is found? Jesus says, “those who love their life will lose it.” “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies it bears much fruit.”
We desire a safe, comfortable life. So, fear is our greatest obstacle. Cowardice prevents us from going to be where Jesus is found. We prefer to go along with the crowd.
One of the results of giving in to fear is corruption. Corruption is present in so many areas of life, within so many institutions within our world. People are willing to cheat, to lie, in order to benefit themselves. Being successful is about being famous, wealthy, popular. It is achieved by defeating others by any means.
To be where Jesus is in our world today will require courage. To stand up against evil, to support those who face prejudice, to be on the side of the poor, the marginalized, those rejected by others. The courage to care about the most vulnerable in society even when it is not convenient. The poor, the unborn, the elderly, the terminally ill, those with disabilities.
All of us experience suffering in different ways. Suffering forces us to go deeper like the grain of wheat that must fall to the grain and die in order to bear fruit. But when we face suffering there are two different ways we can go deeper. We can go deeper in compassion and forgiveness or we can go deeper in anger and bitterness. Only by going deeper in compassion and forgiveness can bring us life.
In 2015 Pope Francis visited the Philippines. While there he was at a gathering of the youth. There he met a young 12 year old girl who tearfully recounted how she had spent her young life forced to forage for food from the garbage and to sleep outside on cardboard mats. She asked the Pope a simple but profound question. “Why did God let this happen to us?” Covering her face with her hands as she sobbed.
The Pope was deeply affected by her and put aside a text he had prepared for the occasion. Instead he responded directly to the young girl giving a reflection on the nature of suffering, love and service. He said to her “the nucleus of your question almost does not have a reply” Pain etched on his face as he mentioned that he had seen her tears. Then he said, “only when we too can cry about the things that you said are we able to come close to replying to that question.” “Why do children suffer.” “Certain realities in life we only see through eyes that are cleansed through our tears.” Pope Francis said.
Then he addressed the youth in the crowd, he could ask each of us here in this church, “I invite each one of you to ask yourselves: ‘Have I learned how to weep, how to cry when I see a hungry child, a child on the street who uses drugs, a homeless child, an abandoned child, an abused child, a child that society uses as a slave?” We need to learn to how to weep.
To be a Christian requires to be where Jesus is found. Jesus will be found where those most in need are found, in our homes, in our community, in our church. So, the church, you and I, must be there as well. Loving our life will cause us to avoid where Jesus is found today.
Fear, the desire for a safe and comfortable life, will keep us away. We need to be like the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies. We need to go deeper not in anger and bitterness, but deeper in compassion and forgiveness. We need to be able to cry when we see injustice, suffering, people hurting. Tears that lead us to be where Jesus will be found, bringing peace, healing, care.