21 March, Sunday — Purposeful Obedience

5th Sunday of Lent

Jer 31:31-34
Heb 5:7-9
Jn 12:20-33

“Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation”

Blessed Lent everyone!

As we enter the 5th week of Lent, for some of us, it is a countdown towards Easter and the celebrations; for others, it is a time check of how long more we have to do, or to give up something this Lent. I won’t deny that many times I’m confronted with the question, “What have I done for this Lent?” and/or “Have I done enough this Lent?”, the comparisons surface with previous years and also the people around me. At times, it feels that the ‘standard’ of Lent is so high that if we happen to break the ‘law’ or fail to live up to the ‘expectations’ of Lent, then it just seems all the more difficult to continue to keep up the sacrifices.

In the Gospel today, we read how Jesus shares that “unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.” This is followed up by how we are called to die to ourselves and our humanly desires, in order that we may better follow Christ and serve Him. In our serving and glorifying of God, our sacrifice will yield a rich harvest and with that, eternal life in Christ. The second reading also shows this where Christ exemplifies obedience to His Father despite the painful death, and his wish to avoid the sufferings and the path He was to take.

Christ was able to focus on the meaning of his sacrifice rather than the sacrifice itself, and we too can learn from this with regards to our sacrifices during this Lent. It is more than ‘fulfilling the Law’ but writing it in our hearts, as from the first reading. Our sacrifices this Lent should ultimately lead us to a deepening of our relationship with Jesus, and not stop at whether or not we managed to keep to our sacrifices; for if our relationship with Christ has not deepened, then there would be no meaning in our sacrificing. This would then lead us to question, “Why do the laws of the church seem to make us suffer?”, when actually, it is to allow us to die to ourselves and humanly desires so that we can yield the rich harvest, a relationship with Christ and the reward of eternal life.

So wherever we are in our Lenten journey, it is never too late to begin focusing on the reason for Lent, a deepening of our relationship with Christ himself, through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, instead of the sacrifice itself. Lord, reveal to us in our suffering, your love and your desire for each and everyone of us. Amen.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)

Prayer: Lord, thank you for showing us the way to eternal life. We pray that you would give us a glimpse of your heavenly kingdom here on earth, to encourage us to continue on this journey, even when suffering, to grow our relationship with your Son, and with one another, as we build your kingdom. Amen.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for our trials and tribulations in life. Thank you for only giving to us what we can handle, sanctifying us, protecting us and strengthening us in the process. Thank you for your graciousness and love. Amen.

One thought on “21 March, Sunday — Purposeful Obedience

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  1. Benjamin – thank you for this reflection, and especially the simple truth in this, ” Our sacrifices this Lent should ultimately lead us to a deepening of our relationship with Jesus, and not stop at whether or not we managed to keep to our sacrifices; for if our relationship with Christ has not deepened, then there would be no meaning in our sacrificing. is, “…

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