“God so loved the world…” by Fr. Greg Redoblado, OFM

Pagans cannot accept a weak and powerless God. However it is Good News to us because He is not an indifferent and distant God. A God who is not only close to us but also who truly suffers with us. I love this kind of God! God is truly regal and glorious in his cross. It may look ugly and bloody but it is beautiful because it is love.

We are now getting closer to holy week. Next Sunday is already Palm or Passion Sunday. But this Sunday’s gospel reading already actually begins this tone of the passion of Jesus with these words, “now my soul is troubled … – Father, save me from this hour.” If we pause for a while and reflect on these words, we can really feel that Jesus is in agony and pain. Yet, it touches us deeply to remember this agony with him comforting us with these words, “do not let your hearts be troubled.” Yes, it takes one, whose soul is troubled, to sympathize with those whose hearts are also troubled. A true healer is one who has been wounded. God’s glory and power are, according to the gospel of John, Jesus lifted on the cross for love of us!

This, I believe, is what the Lord wants us to see today. In the first reading from the book of Jeremiah, God wants us to write this new covenant in our hearts. The old law written on stone tablets will now be re-written and carved in our hearts. His troubled heart and ours will be forged into one.

The gospel begins with people, strangely in fact, Greeks (non believers) who “wished to see Jesus.” John, the evangelist, must already have in mind the universal call to discipleship. Lent is the season to remind us, first of all, of our call to discipleship to follow him and his mission which entails, first and foremost, to “see” and “know” him in a loving relationship – to write Jesus’ very life and mission in our hearts. To reflect on his passion story in the Via Crucis is not only for us to romantically feel his pain, but to follow him in his life offering and loving mission.

Secondly, Lent is a time, once again for us, to see a God who suffers in Jesus. As I said above, holy week is near and so Jesus’ passion looms in our gospel reading today. Jesus cries that his soul or innermost being is troubled. This and the rest of the passion story -suffering, crucifixion and death – is not only a dramatic stage play that we usually re-enact in our senakulo but Jesus’ real human experience of suffering. Our God therefore is a God who suffers in the person of his beloved Son, Jesus. The Greeks and pagans cannot accept a weak and powerless God. However it is Good News to us because He is not an indifferent and distant God. A God who is not only close to us but also who truly suffers with us. I love this kind of God! God is truly regal and glorious in his cross. It may look ugly and bloody but it is beautiful because it is love.

Finally, he wants us to see what a true disciple is: “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.” Lent, indeed, is springtime. We have to blossom, we have to bear fruit but that only happens when we fall to the ground and die to our sins and selfishness. For “whoever loves his life, loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” Jesus is presenting himself to us that very model to follow. Life is truly glorious and meaningful in the giving of oneself. If we claim to be Christians – followers of Jesus – we need to follow the only way to Jesus. He said, “whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am there also will my servants be.”

as published on March 25, 2012, Parish Bulletin
About Fr. Greg and a few of his Reflections

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