Fifth Sunday of Lent

March 18, 2018 | Sister Barbara Conroy, OSB

It may seem strange to start tonight’s reflection with a memory of Epiphany, but as I sat preparing to celebrate the Feast of Epiphany this past January, I was pondering the gifts that the wise men brought to the infant Christ. I could imagine the three of them saying what we just heard in tonight’s Gospel, “We would like to see Jesus.” They wanted to see Jesus to adore Him, but also to bring Him gifts, gifts that would signal for us who He was and the journey that He was to make for us and all of creation. These gifts would signal for us His life and His death.

“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.”

Tonight, that infant child is now close to His own human death. The time has come for those close to Him to anoint Him with the myrrh of the wise men and to wrap Him in fine linen and lay Him in a tomb. Yes, “The hour has come for the son of man to be glorified.”

But the Gospel tells us that Jesus was troubled. And we, too, find it troubling. We ask, “So death leads to glorification? Death leads to life? We have to die to live? What good can come out of death?”

But Jesus, troubled though he was, reassured us. Yes! Jesus tells us that He is our Life and Resurrection.

“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.”

I want to share with you this evening my experience of life, death and resurrection. I want to share how I saw and believed that death does indeed lead to fruitfulness, to resurrection.

Last year, March 5, 2017, after the celebration of the Eucharist I went upstairs to talk to Sr. Lou for the last time. I had been struggling with saying goodbye to her for some time prior to this meeting. I wanted to thank her, but I also wanted to avoid my pain. I knocked on Lou’s door and in a very weak voice she said, “Come in”. I saw the tiredness in Lou’s eyes, but I also saw the life as she patted the head of Sophie, whose head popped up when I entered. Sophie was comforting Lou and Lou was comforting Sophie. Tears began to fill up in my eyes. Lou invited me to have a seat and she reached out for my hand. I thanked her for being a part of my life. Lou knew I was struggling. She smiled and said, “Remember when we went on those formation trips to Colorado. Remember Lake Dillon. How beautiful the crystal water was and the mountains that surrounded the lake. That is where I am going - that beauty. Don’t be sad she said.” Lou knew that her cancer-filled body was dying, but she also knew that her spirit was going to a place of beauty and life.

Even though I work with the dying daily, Lou taught me an important lesson that day. All living things die, but the memories we have live on forever. So, the life we have inside of us never dies but lives forever. I am so grateful for that time with Lou. It truly was a ‘resurrection moment’ for me.

Let us take these last few weeks of Lent to follow Jesus through His death and so to be with Him in His resurrection.