Gifts are wonderful things! Some of them move us because of the generosity involved, others can touch us deeply because of the unexpected remembrance, and there are those which puzzle...
Our OLD TESTAMENT READING [JEREMIAH 31: 31 – 34] provides us with a rich and quite splendid approach to this week which leads us to Palm Sunday and Holy Week. I sincerely urge you to take it to heart and spend these days of the fifth Lenten week shaping your ‘peg’ into some sort of roundness. We really cannot expect to ‘fit’ into Holy Week if there are too many hurtful ‘bumps’ sticking out of our pegs.
So, note well what the prophet reminds us of – “the days are coming … when I will make a new covenant … I will write it upon their hearts … I will be their God … they shall be my people … I will forgive … remember their sin no more.”
My own immediate response to this comes in one, single word – WOW! I must HEAR the heart of God speaking to ME! He is not speaking only to my mind, to the theory of faith, but primarily speaking to my heart – HEART TO HEART! First of all hear clearly the description of the round hole that Lord has made for us – the hole he invites us to fit into. I will be your God. I invite you to become my PERSON – a person who knows who the boss really is. He is a boss who forgives our thoughtless detours involving our escapades with ‘other gods’. He will not remember – completely forget with no thoughts of revenge or expectations of ‘pay-back’. He will put it all behind him. Am I willing and able to do the same – especially by flushing those debilitating twinges of guilt?
When last did my heart speak to the heart of God? Speak to him not about the things I have pre-determined are essential for me – but, rather, about the PERSON I am and desire to become? Am I able to jettison the flotsam of my heart, and grasp the reality of my faith, gifts and talents? Is it possible for me forget about my ineptitudes, hurts and disappointments – no more bemoaning what I have lost, but focus on what is still possible for me to achieve? I must recall clearly the past times when he has taken me by the hand.
Right here I need to speak to his heart from my heart and do it in the words of TODAY’S PSALM [51 or 50] – “create a pure heart for me, O God: renew my steadfast spirit within me. Do no cast me away from your presence; take not your holy spirit from me.”
However, before reflecting on the connection of today’s Gospel with all that has been said we must to remind ourselves of a previous point. This is the need for us become the round peg in the round hole before welcoming Palm Sunday, and proceeding on the journey through Holy Week. We have been challenged at odd times in some past reflections of the holistic meaning of the words ‘hole’, ‘whole’ and ‘holy’. In brief let us remember that anything with a hole in it is not whole – and a holy person is a whole person. If we are supposed to make ourselves a ‘rounded’ Christian then in some real way we must start becoming whole Christians. A truly whole Christian has no need to adjust basic Gospel approaches in order to ‘fit’ into whatever situation he or she encounters.
Remember those childhood verses about the holes in Eliza’s bucket, and how it ends with the word hole? I must ensure that I do not puncture a hole in my bucket in order to allow a few Gospel values to escape because I want to ‘accommodate’ a passing situation. We must ensure that whatever holes there will always be are all above the water line.
TODAY’S GOSPEL [JOHN 12: 20 – 33] provides us with a telling ‘yardstick’ – ” we (I) wish to see Jesus.” This communicates a very simple message and challenge to each one of us. A genuine reflection on these words involves an avoidance of an unconscious or even reflex reaction that it expresses some sort of horrific ‘pentecostal’ outburst. Therefore, it can be dismissed as superfluous for us stalwart Catholics. We all need to see Jesus because it is the means of identifying the holes in our buckets. In addition, seeing Jesus must always result in accommodating him and his Gospel, – not lesser mortals who have problems recognising who is ‘the boss’.
Today’s Gospel reading tells us that “I, when I am lifted up … will draw all men to myself.” When we really want to see Jesus, we need to lift him up. Then he draws us up to himself and guides us through both good and challenging times. If we are to achieve wholeness remember what Jesus says – “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”