At the very beginning of his public life we hear the story of Jesus and Mary and the disciples being at a wedding feast. The hosts had the embarrassing misfortune of running out of wine. Mary notices this and tells Jesus they have no wine. Jesus changes ordinary water into choice wine to save his friends from embarrassment even though he tells his mother ‘my hour has not yet come.’ In Johns gospel we are told, ‘ this was the first of the signs given by Jesus” There will be many more signs, many more miracles given by Jesus to the astonishment of the ordinary people and to the annoyance and the hostility of the authorities.
Today’s gospel is not a chronological telling of events. We don’t know whether or not the visiting Greeks ever got to see Jesus. Jesus starts talking about his hour; we could say his destiny, the reason for his existence among us. To make his point he uses the simple example of a grain of wheat buried in the earth, giving up it protective shell and coming to life – without that transition is remains just a grain, but if it goes through this transition it becomes a life giving plant. The whole teaching of Jesus in this gospel is that if we are to gain we have to loose. If we are to be fully alive we have to die to self centeredness. If we are to be his followers we have to let go of our former ways of living. We have to let go, give up, in order to gain.
This teaching ties into the reality that his hour had come to be glorified by his father. It was an hour Jesus wanted to avoid, an hour from which he sought to be saved. ’Father save me from this hour.’ This is a variation of the reality of Jesus’ agony in the garden when he faced the suffering he was to endure in a very short time. If it is possible let this chalice pass me by. Jesus would not let his own fright and fear keep him from this hour, this hour of decision. Not my will but your will be done. This was a defining moment in his life, ‘thy will be done’.We heard in our second reading that Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death. Because of his reverent submission to his father’s will Jesus became the source of eternal life to all of us.
We know because of his reverent submission Jesus was glorified in and through his resurrection. As Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians, “God raised him on high and gave him a name which is above all other names so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend in heaven and on earth and every tongue should confess Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. His passion, death and resurrection were all part of Jesus’ hour.
Remember the old song, “now is the hour ‘? We’re not talking 60 minutes; we are talking about the now. What is our hour, to what are we called at this time in the now our lives? Maybe because of the circumstances of our lives we may say, now is my hour, my time to be more patient with an aging parent, an aging spouse. Maybe now is my hour to be more gracious more courteous to the people with whom I work. Maybe now is my hour, my time to be more accepting of people different from myself. Now is my hour, my time to stop judging the motives or the lifestyles of other people. Maybe now is my hour, my time to be more open to men and women of different faiths and cultures. Maybe now is my hour, my time to let go of past hurts and the anger I still feel about them. Maybe now is my hour, my time to spend some time in quiet, in peace, in prayer. Maybe now is my hour, my time to be more aware of and more grateful for the blessings of my life.
Do remember the saying, yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery, today is a gift, that’s why we call it the present? There is little we can do about yesterday and we have to wait for tomorrow but our big question is, what am I doing in and with my hour, my now? Now is all we have.
Now we are here as a parish family, a faith family to praise and thank God in and through the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. We can pray for ourselves and for one another that we be blessed to see the possibilities and the challenges of our own hour and open our lives to the grace and power and support of the risen Christ.
- Father Paul Cusack, C.P. is the pastor of St. Gabriel Passionist Parish in Toronto, Canada.