Even as he prepares to leave this world, Jesus retains a passionate interest in it. He does not consider this life a mere prelude to heaven. He wants us to perceive the reign of God in our very midst.
To describe the things of heaven, Jesus turns to the things of earth: yeast, seeds, dirt, water, fish, flowers, birds. He continually employs the ephemeral to explain the eternal. This both comforts and unsettles; taking what is familiar, he turns it on its head—and us as well.
In today’s reading, Jesus uses familiar images once again to talk about strange things: grain and earth and fruit to talk about loving life and hating it, losing it and gaining it.
Jesus clearly loved this life and this world, so his words here may perplex us. On this day, this is part of his point. In this week of all weeks, Jesus asks us not to shrink from what bewilders us but instead to look deeper into those very places.
Jesus tells his hearers to go into the questions, the mysteries, the paradoxes. He tells them to go into the dying that is not dying after all. We sometimes make letting go such a hard thing. We resist giving up. But what if it is not about giving up but giving in? Falling into dirt, as Jesus says here. Going where grain is supposed to go; following the spiral within the seed that takes us deeper into the dark but also—finally, fruitfully—out of it.
After Jesus finishes speaking, he hides. Perhaps he means for us to do the same at this point: to allow ourselves to withdraw for a time. To stop wrestling with the mysteries and simply rest with them. To secret our souls like a seed in the earth and see what grows.
This moment, may we let ourselves rest in the mystery and in the love that meets us in the dark.
This week’s readings take us through the depths but then into the eternal light. We walk each step with Jesus, who suffers betrayal, abandonment, and death in our place. But it is more than that. He also enters into the brokenness of our human condition and feels our pain, such that on the cross he even feels abandonment by God. He walks through the valley of the shadow of death because of God’s amazing, reckless love for us. This is the power of Holy Week. But that is not the end of the story. Jesus’ steps do not end at the cross, for he walks out of the tomb! Now we can follow in his steps and participate in his new life. He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
• Read Psalm 70. What help do you need from God? from others?
• Read Isaiah 42:1-9. Where do you see signs of God’s work in the arena of justice? Where does Creation provide signs of restoration?
• Read John 12:20-36. As you ponder the reign of God in your midst, what images call to your mind God’s presence?
• Read John 20:1-18. When have you, in love, released the life expected in order to take up the life God intends for you?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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