“Hours’ prepare us for eternal life

By | March 25, 2009

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Fr. Mark Vander Steeg

The request of the Greeks to see Jesus is a key moment that moves Jesus to proclaim that “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Their arrival stirred Christ’s awareness that it was time to move forward with the final offering of his life as a ransom for all persons, Jews and Greeks alike. His mission from the Father was reaching its final stages and whatever the Father would allow to happen would be for Glory.

This “Hour” was not a 60-minute time period but rather a recognition that a significant event was about to begin that would direct the fallen story of humanity definitively toward salvation forever. This was a work of God. Christ understood himself to be the agent of this and alludes to his suffering, crucifixion and resurrection as the key “Hour” when it happens. “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” He is the grain and we are the fruit.

Through his obedient offering of self to the Father for us, he will atone for sin, destroy its consequence: death, and through his resurrection gain the power and authority to save others from eternal death. “So that none might be lost.” The Letter to the Hebrews writes, “Son though he was, 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.” Surviving death is now possible through our free obedient adherence to Jesus, and this adherence is often a suffering path home to the Father. Our life path is filled with many little “Hours” when we either choose the path of God who is Love, or the way of the fallen world: sin and death. Are we aware of the arrival of these little “Hours” in our life?

God allows these “Hours,” which uniquely prepare us for eternal life with him. These “Hours” could be the patient endurance of trial, injustice, temptation, or the difficult choosing of love, sacrifice or truth. These individual “hours” are opportunities to move toward deeper dependence on the grace of the Holy Spirit within us, “the law written on our hearts” says Jeremiah, and no longer upon ourselves. We are already passing from death to life. The final Hour of Glorification is a faithful death with Jesus that is unafraid and perhaps even marked with a willingness to depart. “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. Father glorify your name.”

Questions for Reflection

1. What are the “Hours” I am facing in my life?

2. Can I, through the power of God, let my “Hours” become moments of glorification and deeper union with him?

 

Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Mary Parish, Greenville, and St. Edward Parish, Mackville.

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