One of the major goals of Lent is to force us to reflect on our own death and to see our way through it. We all must die, as much as we donít like the fact. We try to hide it, dodge it, deny it. Yet we canít in fact escape it.
Jesus came into the world, not so much to do away with death (not immediately) but to teach us how to die by his example and then to assure us that death does not say the last word on.
When we walk into the valley of death we do not walk alone. Jesus is with us because heís been there before and knows what it is like. Moreover he promises us that just as he rose from the dead so will we. We will all be young again. We will all laugh again.
Fr. Greeley's Last Book:
Once upon a time there was a young grandmother (well all grandmothers are young arenít they?) who totally adored her oldest grandson (like most grandmothers do). He was a good young man too. Handsome, friendly, courteous, more mature than you could reasonably expect any teenager to be. He was also an excellent athlete and was to be valedictorian of his class.
Then, just a week before graduation, another teen (quite drunk) plowed into the car in which the young man was returning from a baseball game. He died three hours later in the hospital. Everyone in the family was, devastated, as you can well imagine. The grandmother was furious. Why do such things happen, she demanded.
Why did it have to happen to my grandson?
What kind of God would permit this to happen to me?
He must be a cruel and vicious God. Why should I believe in him?
I donít believe in him. My grandson was so young, he had the rest of his life ahead of him. Itís all right for old people not to die, but not for someone who had a right to a long and happy life. I dont believe in heaven. I dont believe in anything. She carried on like this for months, making the tragedy even harder for her family. She stopped going to Church and refused to talk to the priest who dropped by her house to talk to her. I hate God, she insisted.
Then one night, maybe she was dreaming, maybe she was half away, her grandson, in his baseball uniform, came to visit it her. Cool it, Grams, he told her. Im happy. Life is much better where I am. Youre not acting like my grams any more. We all have to die sometime, young or old, but here were all young and were all laughing.
So the grandmother began to let go of her grief and rage.
Gospel Reading: Jn 12:20-33
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee,
and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus."
Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
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.
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, and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.
"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."
Then a voice came from heaven,
"I have glorified it and will glorify it again."
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him."
Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself."
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.
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3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is
ever before me.
Catholics and the Struggle with Their Church
The survey of the archdiocese, which Father Greeley describes as "a very complicated place" demographically, asks some difficult questions, and finds some interesting truths.
Father Andrew M. Greeley © 1995-2012
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