SUNDAY 18 March 2018,5th Sunday Lent•• Jeremiah 31:31-34 •• Psalm 51 •• Hebrews 5:7-9 •• + John 12:20-33 ••
Title: “The Other Side / St. Patrick’s Parade Mass.”
[__01__] Welcome to Our Lady of Lourdes, to our Parade Committee, Grand Marshal Donald Shauger, Deputy Grand Marshal Robert Lynch, Deputy Grand Marshal Sean McGinley, Deputy Grand Marshal Brad Squires and their families.
To you, our family, and thank you for your prayers as we begin this solemn and joyful celebration. We are grateful to all those who went to great lengths to make sure our parade happened this year, we are grateful to the many workers and officials in our township who made possible this special event moving it from last week to this week. Thank you for your prayers and effort and for being here.We have waited. We have waited for this day.
[* * * pause * * *]
[__02__] And, there are disciples and future disciples who are waiting in this Gospel reading, waiting in the wings.They are visitors from Greece who have come from the other side of their known world, from the Mediterranean (Greece) to the Middle East (Galilee) to see Jesus.
And, they, so to say, forward a message to Jesus. The visitors forward a message to Philip who forwarded it to Andrew who forwarded it to John who forwarded it to Jesus.
And, Jesus got back to them …
He got back to the Greece-visitors because he understands they want to see him. However, Jesus was telling them that -- if they were to wait just a little while longer -- they will see him after his death and resurrection even more clearly. This is in anticipation of next Sunday – Palm Sunday and Holy Week – and Jesus being put death and rising from the dead.
Jesus compared his current life to being to a seed or grain of wheat, saying: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains but a single grain, but if it dies it brings forth much fruit.” (John 12:24)
[__03_] The paradox is that Jesus said that they would know him, experience him fully after he has disappeared physically, after he has died.Do we believe this?
I think we do…
Here is an analogy. After we receive a message – whether this message is a text, photo, email – do we not observe that the message has an effect on us long after the message, maybe even after it is deleted.
Or, perhaps I have lost the message and cannot find it in any search or scan. Yet, I know what the message is. The message remains.
I can recall certain lessons I was told about, say, how to drive a car … even though I am no longer in driver’s education. I not only recall what I should be doing but also who told me and why they told me and when they told me.
[__04_] Is not a similar thing happening in our relationships?In these examples, we are going from “this side” of what is very earthly and immediate and temporary to the “other side” of what is permanent and spiritual and eternal.
And, the visitors are going from this side of Greece to the other side of Galilee.
And, we are going each day from this side of life to eternal life. That is our goal, to reach heaven and eternal life.
A similar thing is happening in our relationships.
That is, we know certain things – trust certain things – about other people not because they were written down … but simply because a seed was planted, the seed died within is … bore fruit and now we have this knowledge, this connection to another person, even not everything is written down and not everything is spoken out loud.
[__04__] Jesus wants us to know him, in a similar way, to pass to the other side by following his ways by what we do in secrecy and silence for him and for each other. In the Lenten 40 days, for example, we are doing things that help us to pass from this side of the earthly life to the other side, to our eternal life.>> DESERT: by accepting hunger or inconvenience during our Lenten fasts, we share his life of 40 days in the desert.
>> GETHSEMANE by accepting that prayer is not always easy, but a struggle, we share his time in the Garden of Gethsemane.
>> CALVARY-Good Friday by accepting that we may endure rejection, dislike, even dislike of ourselves at times, or the desertion of our friends, we share his rejection on Good Friday.
But, we also share his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Doing these things, we accept that – in our little sacrifices each day – we allow Jesus to be impressed upon us, so that we can go to the other side, even before we have died.
[__07__] One day, many years ago, I asked my grandmother about her journey to New York and to the U.S., her desire to come to this country from Ireland [EIRE], from the auld sod, from the other side.
As a young person – age 14 – she left her home and parents in Donegal and came to stay with an uncle in New York. She arrived with her sister with whom she was best friends for her entire life.
She immediately took menial jobs, cooking, cleaning houses. After all, my grandmother had little of what we call … EXPERIENCE.
To our family, hers was an fascinating autobiography and life-experience. To her, her life was more than an experience and narrative she kept updating to define and explain herself to others. It was an experiment that lasted 82 more years after landfall in New York.
Asking her about this once, about what it was like before she left home, arriving in New York, my grandmother reminded me – you know, if I had not come, you would not be here.
Her life was not just a series of experiences but of experiments and risks.
Yes, her life was an experiment – days and nights which began on a transatlantic ship sometime around 1920. The U.S. / America was certainly no experiment for which she could fudge the results in the lab or go to summer school if it didn’t work out or update her "profile." She wanted to impress this on me.
We pray today in a special way for all those who have helped to build our community, for those who come to country anew, new immigrants as well, and those who unite our township and make Saint Patrick’s Day a reminder of not only of our age but also our youth, a reminder of not only our limited length of our lives, but also the hope we have of being born again each day in faith, a reminder of our distinct identity and our common hope to reach the other side, the Promised Land of Heaven, a reminder of not only our wisdom but also our need for God’s help.