Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
Our daffodils decided to bloom for Confirmation this year. Each year I marvel at how those things continue to return, even know how to continue to come back each year. When we were kids, we would wait for the crops to break through the ground, suddenly there would be the slightest green tint to the black soil when we knew that the seeds had sprouted. There is a gardener in each of us, I believe,whether we have a green thumb or not: all of us are called to bring forth new life.
It is the perfect meditation for us this Sunday, especially, as we reflect on the offering that Jesus makes for us in his passion, death and resurrection with the Gospel of Palm Sunday.
Have you ever wondered about the miracle of a seed? It is planted into the earth, the shell of the seed breaks open, a new plant sprouts. Somehow locked inside that seed is the potential of producing maybe dozens of seasons each with thousands of seeds many times over. It has some kind of software in there that knows exactly how the new tree will sprout, grow, anticipate weather and seasons, bloom. It is uniquely its own. It relies upon the environment in which it is planted to survive.
Jesus uses this image about himself, we heard it last weekend in preparation for the proclamation of the Passion this Sunday: unless a grain of wheat falls upon the ground and dies, it remains but a grain of wheat, but if it dies, it produces much fruit… In this way, Jesus entered the earth in his Incarnation, and finally when the fullness of time came he broke open like a seed, on the cross, and all this life came out. The new life that came out is you and me.
Consider Jesus’ image, for a moment. He uses the word “dies” because from our human perspective the seed, as such, ceases to be a seed. But in reality, it has become the end that God really intended for it: life itself. Everything that the new plant is, it owes to the seed who continues to live through it, with it, in it. Do you see where I am going with this? “Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, Almighty Father, forever.” The process of planting life requires the seed, and continues forever with the same imprint of God’s creative design in the generations of our own humanity. What comfort this can be to those who have lost parents: they live, we are because they gave us life, but that gift has never ended, and they continue to live in us. It is a communion that goes much deeper than mere DNA.
If you will, now allow this meditation to go one step further. For many years I have been frustrated with myself, and I have listened to other peoples’ frustration: however much we try, how hard it is to seek that kind of perfection that belongs to Jesus! Aren’t we supposed to, in a certain sense, become him? It is a level of courage, of humility, of love that goes beyond my limits, however I try.
The fact is, no matter how much we try and fail, we will never have what it takes to become Jesus by our own efforts. Perhaps this is a new look at the whole idea of Justification. I can’t make myself become Jesus. But, as his seed, his dying on the cross, has given me life, he has chosen to become me. Everything I have, I have received from my Father; everything the Father has given to me, I give to you… We are who we are by a special divine DNA from God himself. It is beyond our wildest imagination.
One further thought, it can’t become more literal than it is, right? He chooses to become the Passover meal—the ritual of Passover from death which is the Last Supper united to the Cross on Good Friday—so that we might receive him,the nourishment that gives us life and grows us into new life. We are made one with him in his Cross, we are seeds planted at baptism, to break open with him in offering our life to God the Father through Jesus, with Jesus, in Jesus, so that this life might also break forth and produce fruit a thousand thousands-fold.
Join us this week as we pass, with Jesus, from death to life. The three sacred observances of the Last Supper (Holy Thursday), the Passion of Jesus and Veneration of his Cross (Good Friday) and his Resurrection at Easter are, once and for all, the celebration of who we are in Christ Jesus our LORD. There are no more beautiful and moving liturgies at any other time during the Church year. You are welcome.
God bless you.