5TH SUNDAY OF LENT – B
Let us imagine this scene from the classic movie Fiddler on the Roof: Tevye and his daughter are waiting for the train at the railway station:
Tevye: And he asked you to leave your father and mother and join him in that frozen wasteland Siberia? And marry him there?
Daughter: No Papa, he did not ask me to go. I want to go.
How can I hope to make you understand
Why I do, what I do
Why I must travel to a distant land
Far from the home I love?
There were my heart has settled long ago
I must go, I must go
Who could imagine I’d be wand’ring so
Far from the home I love?
Yet there with my love, I am home.
Somewhere in our journey through life, each one of us must have stood in that railway station responding to the radicalism of love. In one time or another, have we not left our home, said goodbye to our friends and long cherished dreams or careers? Have we not died to ourselves… all for the sake of the one we love? It takes more than courage to let go of our comfort zones and enter into the unfamiliar and the unknown… because of the call to love. When we love another person, we take the risk of exposing not just our goodness but our vulnerability as well. We lay down our cards and surrender ourselves to the other person in the hope that in giving ourselves, we will find happiness. Although some end with broken hearts, others continue to love in spite of pain while many are rewarded with the joy of being loved in return.
When the Greeks came to Jesus, He reminded them of this paradox: “Unless a grain falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest.” That grain was Jesus who died and became the Living Bread for humanity. “Whoever serves me, must follow me, and my servant will be with me wherever I am.” Now we understand why in the course of time there have been countless people who left everything in following Jesus. Only known to God, once they leave their homes, many would never see them again. Like Tevye’s daughter, we are ready to go to any place like Siberia because we want to be with our beloved. Can we not do the same for Jesus?
To some, they give up their lives for a worthy cause like Mother Teresa of Calcutta who served the poorest of the poor in India and now her Missionary Sisters doing the same ministry around the world. Some even ended up their lives in tragedy like Martin Luther King and Ninoy Aquino who fought till the end for the liberation of a nation.
Our deepest joys come from loving. But it comes with a price: to embrace many forms of dying to self moment after moment for the sake of those whom we love, knowing that they live from our heroic deaths.
St. Francis reminds us:
For it is in giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life….