The horrendous acts unveiled daily by the media from around the world leave me wondering which century I am living in. To realize that I am living in the 21st century and witnessing what I see and hear makes my bones cringe with fear about man’s grievous inhumanity to man. For long, people have agitated for world peace free of any violence to no avail. It seems that each time one problem is solved, another thousand pop up. Why is man wicked to man, or is it a return to the mentality of the Dark Ages? My answer comes from the realization that a great act of sacrifice was made over two thousand years ago, but the world paid no attention. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was meant to turn the hearts of men and women to God forever. Unfortunately, it is yet to be seen.
In today’s gospel, we read about how the Greeks came to Jerusalem for the Passover festivities and sought to see Jesus. In their love of philosophy and logic, they expected to hear something novel from Jesus. And when the disciples told Jesus, he responded, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” This response is nothing short of a philosophical rendition of what the Greeks teach in their theories.
For a grain of wheat to bear fruit, it must be buried deep in the dirt, die, and then spring up in multiple forms. Jesus is explaining in graphic terms the nature of his death, his reason for coming from the Father and how his end would be: “Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” His death is expected to be a rallying point for all who believe in his sacrifice. No longer will the world be ruled by hatred but by freedom and love. The time of happiness for the sower is at harvest time when the grain is harvested and gathered in big barns for the unknown future.
The Prophet Jeremiah speaks about a new covenant between God and the house of Israel because the people violated it several times. God did not give up on them. He advocated establishing another covenant that will endure for ages to come. God says, “I will place my laws within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have a need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord. All, from the least to the greatest, shall know me . . . for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” The long-awaited promise became a reality with the appearance of Jesus in our history giving credence to the covenant God established with Israel.
The silence of God today does not mean that He has not spoken to us in the past even when heinous crimes are committed against fellow human beings. He has given us his laws written in our hearts to assist us to differentiate between what is good and what is evil. He allowed his Son to be humiliated on the Cross. But the Cross is a reminder that the wheat fell on the ground and we ought to bear good fruits for others to enjoy a free life in God.
From today the ceremonies in the Church will begin to intensify. As we inch closer to Easter, the Church allows us to cover all crucifixes from today until Good Friday when we unveil Jesus in the veneration of the Cross. St. John Paul the Great once said, “It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.” Many people sacrificed their lives to give us our freedom. Jesus did.
Even so, why can’t we pursue those ideals that reinforce our religious freedom without thinking of ‘political correctness? The media’s revelations of the mentality of the Dark Ages should challenge us to return to God’s sacrificial love as a 21st century religious practice. Keep praying!BACK TO LIST