How are we challenged to live these words of John’s gospel for this fifth week of Lent? Questions to ponder arise from Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si. He reminds us in article 94, The rich and the poor have equal dignity, for the Lord is maker of them all (Prov. 22:2). Further he writes, Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us. The issue is one which dramatically affects us, for it has to do with the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn (160). Pope Francis says, Those who are no longer on the lookout for what they do not have experience what it means to appreciate each person and each thing, learning familiarity with the simplest things and how to enjoy them (223). We must regain the conviction that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world.
The beginning of today’s gospel John points out that there were Greeks who went up to the festival to worship. They told Philip, Sir, we wish to see Jesus. The arrival of these first Gentile disciples moves toward the fulfillment of the promises of universal salvation.
In her Lenten reflections for this fourth week of the year, Joan Chittister presents a timely and stirring challenge. She writes: In the rhythm and joy of Shabbat services, in the drum and tambourine of a Sufi Zikr, in the chanting of Buddhist monks, in the press of an organ’s pedal in a Catholic church, in the flowers, light and incense of a Hindu ceremony, in the hours of singing in a Russian Orthodox church, and in so many other moments of worship, we can feel God. The God who said, “I will draw all people to myself.” (Cry Out. Lent 2018)
As each of us contemplates, takes a long, loving look at the reality to be found in the words of Pope Francis, Joan Chittister, and especially the gospel of John, we will probably find that questions will arise—questions to ponder about how to live the gospel message during this fifth week of Lent. The answers to the questions are not so important as the questions themselves. In Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke instructs the young poet to live his questions rather than to try to find the answer.
God speaks to Jeremiah in the first scripture for today: I will be their God and they shall be my people. Jesus fulfills this promise as he is lifted up to draw all God’s people to himself.
-Sister Mary Fran
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