March 31, 2009

The Greek Prayer

5th Sunday of Lent
John 12: 20-33 “Sir, we would like to see Jesus”

Today is the last Sunday of Lent. As we move closer to commemorate the passion and death of Jesus next Sunday, it is good to ask for the grace we want to receive during the Holy Week. Our pericope today gives us one of the best prayers in the Gospel and it came from the outcast gentiles – the Greeks: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” (v. 20). This simple prayer could help us walk through the Holy Week as we remember Jesus’ ultimate expression of His love for us - offering His life for our salvation.

When Philip and Andrew accompanied some Greeks to Jesus in their desire to know Him, we are surprised by Jesus’ answer, “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.” It seems that Jesus is not connecting with the Greeks. Their request is simply “to see.” But Jesus’ response is “to die.”

On second thought, Jesus is actually answering the Greeks! He wants them to see Him in a different but life-changing perspective. Usually when we pray to Jesus, we want to see Him in his divinity – a bright shining light, defender of the oppressed, a miracle worker and healer, a God who always answers our prayers. When we come to Him, we want to hear his victory over evil, pain and suffering.

But Jesus is introducing a different Him in our gospel. It goes against our expectation of a victorious God and challenges us to journey with Him into an undiscovered, unpopular, and less traveled road known as “dying to ourselves.”

To see God is to die from our own selfishness and self-centeredness by carrying our daily crosses. It is easy for us to see God when everything is okay, when we have money, when we are healthy, when we have friends in our presence, and when we and our family are well secured. But we tend to lose our sight and become blind when it goes the other way around and when things are falling apart. We hardly see Jesus in our difficulties and trials in our life. We even questioned the love of God when we are humiliated, insulted, betrayed, and left alone. In moments like these, abandoning God becomes a very tempting option. Sad to say, many of us are still infant Christians. Ironically, in the realm of spirituality, dying is the only way to growing.

In the gospel of Mark, it was ironic that a non-believer Roman officer saw something while Jesus was hanging on the cross. In the midst of humiliation, defeat, and death, he saw something and proclaimed his faith, “Truly, this man was really the Son of God.” (Mark 15:39). He saw Jesus’ real identity on the cross.

Let’s be with Jesus in His journey to life this coming Holy Week. See Him hanging on the cross. Feel his struggles in obeying God’s will. Feel His pain. He was abandoned, betrayed, humiliated, and insulted. But He willingly carried His cross until death for our salvation.

As the Greeks said, “We want to see Jesus.” Do you want to see Him also? I want to. But we have to realize that seeing comes at a cost. IT WILL COST US OUR LIVES BUT IT WILL SAVE US. (John 12:25).

Fr. Willy M. Samson, SJ
St. Joseph Church, Zamboanga City
March 29, 2009

Note: Below is another “Buhay Boksing” experience from another friend of mine.

Dear Fr.Willy

My new life here in the US has been a boxing match between me and my self. It sounds funny but yes, my greatest enemy is myself - my own temperament, my being indecisive and dependence to some people to suggest decisions for me, my impatience, my ungratefulness to God, etc...

Many times in my life here, I come to HIM for help when I am already at the cross roads or in very rough times and in most cases when my journey seems okay, I seldom thank HIM! I realized that God never used them against me, but I feel the shame/guilt. I usually embraced negativity over things, became impatient and made bad decisions. In turn, I ended up regretting over them.

YET, God in his His unconditional LOVE, never abandoned me. If my mathematical mind is right, God's help/guidance/company... is enormous that I could not count them, because no matter how bad my decisions were, God still makes me feel that I am truly loved by HIM. I wrote you about "When it rains, it pours" but I feel, it should be "When God pours, HE keeps on pouring."

There are many times that I thought I would ran away from the boxing ring because I could not raise my hand to give another punch to my enemy and yet when I hear the 'ting-ting-ting", I feel God's hands leading me to the seat in my corner to coach me to breath, relax my muscles, clear up my mind and then FIGHT AGAIN at the sound of the bell. God in HIS most loving voice saying: "I am here and I will be watching you. No matter what, I will be here waiting for you after each round!" HE continuously pours blessing, no matter what I do, no matter how bad my sins are (but of course, this has never been my excuse to keep sinning- God forbids), it is just that I feel that no matter what I do, HE is always there to give me the blessings I need to survive and in most cases, the blessings again are enormous. Kahit sa dami ng aking mga “ungrateful moment,” … isang pasalamat lang, bubuhos na kaagad ang mga grasya galing sa KANYA! Nakakahiya nga, pero ganoon nga siguro magmahal ang DIYOS! Walang kupas, walang kondisyon, "walang iwanan" sa lahat ng pakiki-boxing ko sa buhay--Pilipinas man o Amerika, walang tigil ang buhos ng mga grasya!

Sa Buhay-boksing, may pahinga naman dahil may "ting, ting, ting." Sa lahat ng pakikibaka na nagawa ko na, kitang-kita ko ang Diyos at ang galaw NIYA na misteryoso---paibaiba ang style, pero iisa lang ang pinanggagalingan - PAGMAMAHAL NIYA SA AKIN!

salamat sa mga homilya mo! napakalaking tulong sa akin!

ingat ka lagi,

A friend from the United States

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