5th Sunday in Lent
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Heb 5:7-9
John 12:20-33

The Agony in the Garden plays a central role in the Paschal mysteries we are about to celebrate. Christ’s obedience to the Father in the face of extreme suffering marks the beginning of the events that defeated sin and death and opened the way to heaven. It is in Gethsemane that Christ bears the full weight of our sins and yet does not waver from the task allotted to him. Today’s second reading and Gospel both attest to this salvific event.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes that Jesus “offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (Hebrews 5:7). Christ knew that the Father had the power to save him from suffering and his human nature, like all of our human natures, resisted the prospect of suffering. Yet “he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9). This is the path of salvation: obedience that includes suffering. Only by being conformed to the will of God – which necessarily involves at least the suffering of subverting one’s own will – can we be brought to salvation. Jesus’ agony becomes the model for all Christians. No servant is greater than his master.

John’s Gospel also references Christ’s agony, but he emphasizes the complete obedience of Jesus: “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour” (John 12:27). Christ knew from the beginning of time the role he had to play in salvation history, and he knew the path was marked with suffering. He accepted this path because he knew that it would glorify his heavenly Father (cf. John 12:28) and would bring salvation to the world.

We too are called to faithful – and often painful – obedience. By offering up our own sufferings, we become co-redeemers with Christ (Colossians 1:24), uniting our suffering with his for the salvation of the whole world. When we encounter our own agonies, we can unite them to Christ’s agonies and thus be made perfect, in the image of Christ himself.
All Reflections



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