18 March 2018
See, the days are coming – it is the Lord who speaks – when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel (and the House of Judah), but not a covenant like the one I made with their ancestors on the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant of mine, so I had to show them who was master. It is the Lord who speaks. No, this is the covenant I will make with the House of Israel when those days arrive – it is the Lord who speaks. Deep within them I will plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I will be their God and they shall be my people. There will be no further need for neighbour to try to teach neighbour, or brother to say to brother, ‘Learn to know the Lord!’ No, they will all know me, the least no less than the greatest – it is the Lord who speaks – since I will forgive their iniquity and never call their sin to mind.
During his life on earth, Christ offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard. 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.
Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. These approached Philip, who came from Bethsaida in Galilee, and put this request to him, ‘Sir, we should like to see Jesus.’ Philip went to tell Andrew, and Andrew and Philip together went to tell Jesus. Jesus replied to them:
‘Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
I tell you, most solemnly, 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.
Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for the eternal life.
If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too. If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him. Now my soul is troubled.
What shall I say: Father, save me from this hour? But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name!’
A voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ People standing by, who heard this, said it was a clap of thunder; others said, ‘It was an angel speaking to him.’ Jesus answered, ‘It was not for my sake that this voice came, but for yours.
‘Now sentence is being passed on this world; now the prince of this world is to be overthrown.
And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself.’
By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.
“Whoever serves me must follow me…”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus was talking to Andrew and Philip and He reminded them that “whoever serves me must follow me”. Jesus was not talking about just following Him from place to place, but it is also important to follow Him by praying unceasingly.
The ministry that I am serving in is currently undergoing a change in its leadership, and I have been asked to step up and take on a leadership role. Despite my initial apprehension (I was afraid of the backlash from some members as I was considered newer in the ministry), I knew my heart wanted to serve and decided to take courage and respond to the invitation after praying and finding peace. I was talking to a friend about how I was feeling and she told me to continue praying, not only for the leadership team, but also for the members who were feeling negative about this new team that has been formed.
I initially struggled with my friend’s suggestion as I found it hard to pray for those who were against the team and I found myself wanting to be in control. But as today’s Gospel reminds us, unless we die to ourselves, God cannot work through us for the betterment of His people. I slowly started surrendering how I felt and tried to focus on praying for this ministry, the leaders, and everyone impacted by this new change. Gradually, I noticed that my apprehension of being a leader reduced significantly and I felt more at peace. Likewise, my fear of being picked on by others also started to reduce and my perspective started to shift – I was able to look at feedback from the giver’s point of view instead of becoming defensive or angry. I still struggle, but instead of being frustrated with myself and others, I would gently remind myself that it is okay to struggle, as long as I continue to persevere in my prayers to God. I was also thrilled when I saw that Pope Francis had dedicated the month of March to praying for spiritual discernment for both personal and communitarian levels, as I felt that God was reassuring me and reinforcing that prayer is taking a step in the right direction.
Brothers and sisters, Jesus did not have it easy during His ministry either, yet He persevered by fervently praying not only for Himself, but for the people He was preaching to and for the nations He hoped to reach out to. Jesus reminded us in today’s Gospel that as followers of Christ, it is important to emulate Him in our daily lives and in order for God to work through us, it is important that we do not give up when we struggle, but to continue surrendering our entirety to Him.
(Today’s Oxygen by Hannah Huang)
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for the desire to enrich our lives by praying for ourselves, our loved ones, as well as those who we struggle with. Open our hearts to be loving to all and not discriminate anyone because You love everyone.
Thanksgiving: Dear loving Father, we thank you for your timely reminder to pray for those who hurt us as Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him. Thank you for your gift of Jesus and His sacrifice.