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Living in Christ: Service, Self-sacrifice, Suffering

This is the last regular Sunday of Lent. Next week, we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion and begin Holy Week.


The journey through this Lent has been filled with anticipation. As people are being vaccinated against COVID, we are anticipating a return to active life after a year of quarantine. After winter, we are anticipating spring. After a year of acting selfishly and sinfully, we are anticipating being cleansed through the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation and renewed in the baptismal celebration of Easter. Anticipation is part of our human nature. We have to ask ourselves, though, are we anticipating with fear or hope?


Jesus tells Philip, Andrew, and the crowd that “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Jesus’ glory, however, will be preceded by great pain. He gives clues as to how God’s glory will be manifested: in service, self-sacrifice, and passionate suffering.


Throughout his life, Jesus served others. Even though his disciples called him “Teacher,” he served them. He taught them, healed them, and fed them. Jesus calls his disciples to follow him by serving others. How are we following and serving Jesus in our actions toward others? Do we tend to desire to be served more than serve others?


Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” By life and death, he exemplifies what it means to sacrifice self. He did everything not for himself, but for his Father and for the people he encountered. In what ways do we sacrifice ourselves to live according to God’s desires rather than our own desires? Do we live sacrificially with our sights on eternal life or with ourselves and this world as our focus?


Jesus says, “I am troubled now.” He knew what he faced in Jerusalem. He knew that the religious authorities were out to destroy him. He knew he was entering into a battle with “the ruler of the world,” would suffer passionately, and be “lifted up.” How do we embrace our suffering? Do we persevere through our suffering with grace or do we become embittered and despairing?


Through his service, self-sacrifice, and suffering through his passion and death, Jesus glorified God. Through his resurrection, God glorified Jesus Christ. By the glory of God through Jesus, all peoples have been restored to relationship with God.


As we anticipate Holy Week and Easter, may we reflect on our service to Jesus through service to others. May we commit to sacrificing ourselves more and living with a focus on Christ. May we embrace our suffering and offer it up for the good of others, to draw everyone to God.

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