The hour has come

By | March 21, 2012

“The hour has come.” These words from the Gospel mark an awareness in Jesus that a distinctive turning point in his ministry had been reached. The arrival of the Greeks and their desire to see Jesus remains somewhat mysterious, but in this encounter some have seen the continued revelation that the Messiah is meant for all persons, Jews and Gentiles alike. Christ receives their arrival as seemingly prophetic and turns his words to his impending self-offering on the cross, “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 saw that in this sacrificial abandonment to the Father’s plan he would accomplish the Father’s will of redemption for all people. The hour had arrived and the Father’s name would be glorified in it.

We too have “hours.” There are moments of choice that lean us toward or away from heaven and God’s will for us. There are also some hours where we face a decision that could eternally affect who we become and where we are going. The words of Jesus whisper in our ear and are written on our heart, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me.”

Consider the experiences in the life of faith when we are asked by God through his voice in the church to abandon this or that personal understanding or interpretation of the faith that differs from what is proclaimed by the universal church. These “hours” have effects which range from a gradual leaning toward or away from the church to that of a tragic outright departure. The choosing of God’s way is spiritually marked by the arrival and awareness of the life-giving cross. The cross is not easy.

The “hours” of life remain personal for each of us and yet also bear a common experience of the human soul. Each stage of life presents its own. There are the hours of love when we must choose God’s path or something less and more transitory. Courtship and dating are often the first arrival of this hour and our response to the hour of love can be very influential on how we respond to the other hours of life. Commitment over infidelity, forgiveness over bitterness, sacrifice over pleasure, honesty over shadows, humility over pride, trust over doubt, hope over fear, or prayer over loss of faith. What have been the hours of your life? The hour of suffering is perhaps the most difficult and most near our Lord. All of these hours prepare us for the greatest hour when God calls us home. Like Jesus, we may ask ourselves, “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 is an hour you are facing in your life?

2. What response leads toward God and the church and which leads away?

3. Where is Jesus in my hour?

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

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