Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Hour of Jesus

   One of the most interesting elements in today’s Gospel is the dialogue between the Father and Jesus. Listen to them converse about the hour that has come. Our Lord says, “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.” Jesus realizes the immensity of the sufferings approaching Him. He has to renew his acceptance of this hour in the midst of the temptation to flee. And He does renew it, reminding Himself of the mission given Him by the Father and of the divine plan which is about to reach its fulfillment. He cries out, “Father, glorify your name.” The Father replies with a kind of thunder, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again;” the Father acknowledges His Son’s cry and accepts His willingness to enter this final hour. The Father’s glory is that His Son be glorified; that the ruler of this world be judged and cast out; and that we be saved from innumerable slaveries. This dialogue of the Father and the Son draws us into the hour of Jesus, and we are invited to participate in it.
   The second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews reveals another aspect of Jesus’ hour. It reads: “…and when He was made perfect, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.” Note the phrase: “…and when he was made perfect.” This is the terminology used in the Old Testament to describe the consecration of the High Priest. What the author of the Letter is saying is that in this hour of suffering that Jesus humbly endures, the Father consecrates Him High Priest on our behalf, that is, the perfect mediator. We need a mediator, and Jesus’ mediation includes a worthy sacrifice – the sacrifice of His own will and the gift of His life’s blood to cleanse and reconcile us to God. The priestly sacrifice of Jesus, which is the source of our eternal salvation, is made present to us in this liturgy, and we participate in it.
   Finally, the hour of Jesus mediates a new way of life for us, a new relationship with God, which Jeremiah describes as a “new covenant”. This hour of Jesus, you might say, is poured out on us in the person of the Holy Spirit who writes the law of God upon our hearts – the law of the love of God and love of neighbor. This writing can be painful at times, because the “finger of God,” touches and lays bare the secrets of our hearts. But with His touch the Spirit forgives our sins and lifts us up to the pierced heart of our Savior where we can drink of the Spirit unceasingly. This is the hour of the new covenant which the liturgy makes present for us to embrace. 
Photograph by Charles O'Connor. Excerpts from today's homily by Father Vincent.