5th Sunday of Lent 2022 – Passiontide
Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead,
I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 3:13b-14
Brothers and Sisters,
As together we enter the remaining two weeks of Lent, known as Passiontide, the focus in readings and prayers shifts from conversion to the passion of Jesus. As the Gospel tells us, Jesus’ last procession and entrance into Jerusalem were filled with him teaching the disciples some challenging concepts. As we hear recounted in the Eucharistic Prayer each Sunday, Jesus intentionally gathered his disciples for a meal. He knew they needed sustenance from more than ordinary food and drink; they needed to be fueled by the extraordinary —Jesus’ very life. At that Last Supper, intending to invite all disciples to be nourished with his life, Jesus instituted the priesthood and the Eucharist.
Manipulated by power-hungry leaders seeking political gain, as Jesus entered Jerusalem, the public’s favor dramatically changed from a welcoming and delighted crowd to an angry mob calling for Jesus to be crucified. Even the majority of those whom Jesus had fed would betray, deny, or abandon him. Only a courageous few kept vigil and were present at his crucifixion and death.
Today, gathered at his altar, the same invitation Jesus offered his disciples is extended to us. To be fed by the Eucharist, our Lord’s very Body and Blood. And then we are asked, “will you follow me to the cross?” St. Paul would refer to the cross as a “stumbling block,” and in his letter to the Philippians, he encourages the community of fledgling Christians to share in his suffering. Welcoming suffering is never an easy task. A true leap of faith is required to abandon our comfort zones and set aside our agendas and preconceived expectations. Paul, a bonafide Saint, even admits that he has not yet “attained perfect maturity,” to do so. Still, he continues to strive toward growing in faith.
Like Paul, we all have experienced challenges of living our faith out to the full, accepting our crosses, and sharing in the mission entrusted by Jesus to us, the Church. During these next few weeks of Lent, let’s keep one another in prayer as we gaze upon the cross and seek to accompany one another by invitation and encouragement. In particular, join me in prayer for our RCIA candidates who will be received into the Church and confirmed at the Easter Vigil, our confirmation candidates whom Archbishop Lori will confirm this Easter Season, and our first communicants preparing to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
Lastly, I ask for prayers to guide our parish as we seek to hire a youth minister. I am considering alternatives with parish leadership, but OLPH must invest time and energy in accompanying our youth and their families on their faith journeys. I am concerned that we are missing an opportunity to engage high school youth post Confirmation, helping them mature in their faith and as disciples. Please keep this intention in your prayers through these holiest days.
In the Crucified Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett