Christ’s tears were of a man who was frightened

2021 5th Sunday of Lent (B) 

We are now coming close to the end of Lent; just one more week. The readings at today’s mass reflect something of the drama that is about to happen: Jesus long journey from Nazareth in the north to Jerusalem in the south is about to come to its conclusion. It won’t be a nice ending and Jesus knows this. What courage it took to keep going; surely the temptation was there to run away. The writer of the letter to the Hebrews had some insight into Jesus state of mind when he writes; ‘During his life on earth, Christ offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death.’ Imagine that if you will: Christ crying alone. In his human nature he did not find this easy; on the contrary. He prayed more than once to be saved from what was to come. And yet he kept going  We are told by the same author that ‘he learned to obey through suffering.’ Think about that; it is not an easy phrase to understand: to obey through suffering. 

Christ’s mission on earth was to do the Father’s will, even when in his human nature he wanted to run away; to get away from what was about to happen. He knew that his confrontations with the scribes and pharisees would lead to his death; he knew this, he didn’t want it but he did it nonetheless; because this is what the Father wanted. His suffering was real. Think of him on his own praying in silent tears.  His tears were of a man who was frightened. He didn’t want this but it had to be and he accepted that. He learned to obey through suffering. 

He gives his disciples a real insight into his death when he said, “unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and died, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.’ This is what Jesus must do: he must die in order to produce a rich harvest; which is the salvation of humankind. From a human perspective his death was insignificant; people were being crucified in their hundreds and indeed thousands by the romans; he was just another one. But he, was Jesus, God and man; the Son of God. Others go to the cross kicking and screaming; Jesus went to the cross willingly. From a faith perspective his death changed the destiny of humankind. And that is not all, we too can join him in his suffering for others. Every time we suffer, and we all do, alone and in silent tears, we can join our suffering to Christ’s. And although what we suffering may seem insignificant compared to Christ’s, none the less by sharing our suffering with his we too share in Christ’s redemptive work. Our little effort is transformed when it is joined to Christ’s.  These are profound thoughts but what is happening this week in Lent is the most important event in the history of humankind.  

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