The Journey’s End Revisited
Homily for March 18, 2018 Fifth Sunday of Lent - B
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi
Have you ever gone somewhere that took a long time to get there? Maybe it seemed like a long time, but with travel today it doesn’t usually take too long to get somewhere – a few hours by plane, maybe a couple of days by car. Not like in the days of Columbus, where it took two months to cross the Atlantic for the first time. Even Lent is only 40 days.
But maybe you went on a vacation, or maybe you had to make an important business trip. If it was somewhere you wanted to go and you had the time, you probably did a lot of planning beforehand - what to take, what NOT to take, how you were going to get there, where to stay once you arrived, what to say and do while you were there. The planning and preparation may have taken longer than the trip itself.
Or maybe you had to make a trip on short notice. Maybe it was to see someone who was seriously ill or because someone had died. It’s hard to plan for that kind of trip, and you know there will be many unknowns once you arrive.
And as you approached your destination, you probably experienced a change in your emotions. If you were traveling for pleasure, you might have experienced an increase in the sense of anticipation or excitement – maybe even impatience? How many of us who have traveled with children have had to deal with “Are We There Yet?”
For a business trip you might have reviewed what all you needed to do and what you wanted to accomplish once you arrived. You might even feel a little anxious or uncertain, especially if the purpose of the trip was important to your business.
And if the trip was to deal with a serious problem or a death in your family, you might have even had a feeling of dread, or the desire to be anywhere else but there.
In today's Gospel we see that Jesus and his disciples are coming to the end of a long journey. They are approaching the end of three years of Jesus' ministry, and during this journey He has tried to prepare his followers for what was coming next - His Hour, as He calls it. And it would not be what they expected.
In a way, today's Gospel sort of jumps the gun for us, as this passage actually comes AFTER Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem for Passover, which we will hear next week for Palm Sunday, the start of the Passion of Our Lord. The journey is over; the action is about to begin. Jesus’ Hour has Come.
Now, throughout the past few Sundays, we’ve heard Jesus say that His Hour has NOT yet come. We’ve heard it when the authorities have repeatedly tried to arrest him or stone him. We’ve heard him tell his disciples how they must work in the light – his light – while there was still time, for darkness was coming.
Now, he talks about how His Hour has come, and how it troubles him. He KNOWS what is about to happen to him and what he will face. But although it troubles him, he knows that what he faces is the will of his Father and that it will bring glory to God. It is why he came. Through his death, he will bring eternal life back to us.
We, too, have been on the journey with Jesus for the last 32 days or so of Lent. We started our journey on that 1st Sunday of Lent with Jesus in the desert facing the temptations of the devil; then journeyed with him as he revealed himself to us as The Son of God through his lessons and miraculous signs; and finally as we witnessed the conflict between him and the Jewish authorities develop. Has it felt like a long time?
Do you feel any different now as we approach the end? You should. Throughout this time we should have been mentally preparing ourselves (well, hopefully) for the most sacred time of our Liturgical Year - Holy Week and the Passion of Our Lord. Of course we already know the outcome - Easter and the Resurrection of our Lord - but because of that we might forget about the importance of this portion of the journey. WE ARE NOT THERE YET.
And for some of you, your journey to Calvary is more than a religious exercise. You may be feeling the rejection of those closest to you. You may be persecuted or abandoned; you or someone near to you may be suffering from illness or economic distress. You may want to scream out the same thing that Jesus will from the cross, “God, why have you abandoned me?”
We may struggle to understand why we suffer the things we do, but as painful as they may be, God doesn't abandon us. And while we may not know how to deal with them, we can use them to give glory to God. For, after our own journey is complete, we too will experience our own resurrection and a share in Jesus' victory over death.
So, as we continue forward to our own Jerusalem, let us remember that Jesus suffered as one of us and that his Resurrection at Easter is a promise to us, too. Renew your efforts during this last week of Lent. Listen closely next Sunday as the Passion is proclaimed. Participate in the various Holy Week liturgies that follow it – if you can, go to the Chrism Mass on Tuesday; come experience the Lord’s Supper and the Washing of Feet on Holy Thursday; come venerate the Cross on Good Friday. Fast and abstain when you can, and ponder the sacrifice that Jesus willingly took upon himself for us. And when Easter morning comes, embrace the victory of Jesus over death and the Cross. For at the end of our own journey, that victory is for us too.