Dear Friends in Christ
St. John’s Gospel was written some years after the Synoptic Gospels and is the fruit of the Apostle’s long reflection on the life of Jesus. As he reflected John came to understand Jesus’ death on the cross as his ‘glory’ and his ‘hour’. It is remarkable, isn’t it, that an instrument of torture and execution, on a hill outside the city of Jerusalem, should become the world’s greatest symbol of self-sacrificing love? For John, Jesus was born to die: this was his destiny.
Jesus noted that in nature a kernel of wheat has to be buried in the ground – seemingly to die – before it rises again, producing a sheaf of wheat and many seeds. He was speaking prophetically about the fate he knew awaited him. From death comes life, from dying comes rising, from losing our lives comes finding our lives. This is an important principle of the Christian life: one we are called to appropriate and put into practice.
The season of Lent, and especially Holy Week, affords us the opportunity to focus on Jesus’ death, his hour of glory, and seek to penetrate ever more deeply the mystery and message of the cross. Scripture teaches us to view Jesus’ death as the power of God. In Paul’s words, ‘the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God’. Do you experience Jesus’ cross as God’s grace, power and wisdom?
One way we can know the power of the Cross in our own experience is by examining what it is to boast of. We tend to boast of the external: in power, position, possessions and so on. Paul, however, taught that we should boast of the cross. He said: ‘far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world’. In other words, he praised and thanked God for Jesus’ cross; he glorified in the cross and rejoiced in it. We can be expectant that, as we glory in the cross, we will experience its power to transform our lives.