Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name. – Phil 2:8-9 

The Mass readings of the fifth Sunday of Lent prepare the faithful for the following Sunday, known as Passion (Palm) Sunday. There are great riches and depths in these readings, too plentiful for this space. For now, the focus will be on the Holy Spirit and the humility of Jesus.

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

Life in the Spirit

With baptism comes an infusion of the Holy Spirit, where the grace of faith is planted deep within. The power of the Holy Spirit enables the baptized to live in the fullness of Jesus. That being said, the faithful are baptized into the body of Christ, a life of joy and suffering. By the power of the Holy Spirit faith, healing, restoration and transformation occur. St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.” (Rom 8:11) Life begins in the Spirit. Life is to be an imitation of Jesus’. Life is destined for eternity with the father.

The prophet, Ezekiel writes, “I (Yahweh) will open your graves and have you rise from them.” This is God’s plan for salvation. Jesus, in turn, reveals the concreteness of this when he raises Jarius’ daughter (Mk 5), the widow’s son (Lk 7), and Lazarus (Jn 11), which we hear about on the fifth Sunday of Lent. Even though mortal bodies are subject to decay, those who believe (faith) and act on that belief will realize eternal life as the body and soul are raised on the last day. Ask yourself, am I living life according to the Spirit, in imitating Jesus, with my compass guiding me to God? Am I making choices that align with Jesus’ life? How can I call upon the power of the Holy Spirit for assistance to turn away from sin and decay? Do I believe?  

Rather, he emptied himself … (Phil 2:7)

The loving obedience of Jesus is an act of divine revelation, showing the world the life-giving love that flows from person to person in the Trinity. (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, 2010) Jesus entered Jerusalem as a king enters his court: people joyfully waving palms, shouting “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Days later some of the same people, shouted, “Crucify Him.” Today’s glory is tomorrow’s rejection. Yet, the prophet Isaiah explains, “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame” (Is 50:7).  

Humility is when we turn everything over to the will of God for the sake of his glory. Jesus not only humbled himself, he emptied himself (the appropriate Greek term is “kenosis”) and submitted to the will of the father. He was betrayed, arrested, spit upon, misunderstood, denied, accused, tried, beaten, mocked, crowned with thorns, crucified with nails driven into his hands and feet, bled, suffocated and died. It is here we kneel at the foot of the cross, recalling the words of the prophet Isaiah which are now fulfilled in Christ: “Through his stripes we are healed.”  

As darkness covered the land that hour, so too are we covered in darkness of our sins. But our redeemer has opened the way from death to life. Hope has risen. But for now, we kneel in silence and meditate on why Jesus did this. The purpose of his death was to obtain the salvation of all mankind and to teach us how to love, for greater love than this no man has, than to lay down his life for his friends.” This man is Christ on the cross. He did it for all, and he did it for you.  

(Note: Meditating on the Stations of the Cross is a good way to prepared for Holy Week.)  

Dow is the director of the Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge. ​