By Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH
Jer 31:31-34; Ps 51:3-4, 2-15; Jn 12:20-33
Last spring, during the Easter season, we enjoyed the beauty and fragrance of several hyacinth plants. After they had bloomed and then gradually wilted and dried, I continued to water them in the hope of a second bloom. Nothing happened and after a while I gave up and put the pots aside. Almost a year has passed and the other day something in the neglected flower pots caught my eye.
What was that yellowish, white thing? Could it be? Yes, it was a tender shoot pushing through the earth saying, “I died and was buried, but now, here I am emerging from the earth alive and new.” It took time, but the transformation happened. Another and another bud pushed through and I was awed at the miracle and determination of life over death.
We hear about such surprise and transformation in the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Jesus tells us that “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.”
Being the servant, the follower of Jesus means that we understand the story of the seed, the lesson of the plant. Those periods of death, darkness, loss, doubt and confusion that every one of us experiences in our lives, are the environment, the incubation period from which faith, enlightenment and rebirth emerge.
And where is the nurturing place for such a faith? In the first reading we hear the words of the prophet Jeremiah: “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts. I will be their God and they shall be my people.”
God has placed the seed of faith in our hearts. Our hearts are that place of incubation for renewal, discovery, transformation, birth. Our Lenten discipline enables us to clarify the direction of our lives, to face and deal with the dark places within and to accommodate the challenges of daily dying and rising.
May we nurture in our hearts during this “season of incubation” new stirrings of hope, possibilities and responsiveness to the call of the one who “became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
We pray in the words of the responsorial psalm: