Bread In The Wilderness

Father Carl Diederichs

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

For those of us who observe the forty days of Lent, this Sunday is the Fifth Sunday of Lent. Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the holiest week of the year—Holy Week.

The readings from scripture for this Sunday are: Jeremiah 31: 31-34, Hebrews 5: 7-9, and John 12: 20-33.

Jeremiah speaks comforting words to us: “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” And then the punch line: “All from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.”

In John’s Gospel we hear Jesus speaking to some Greeks who said to Philip: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” And when they met Jesus he said to them: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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.” These Greeks were probably shocked by His words. He was speaking about His own death.

Jesus said these words not too much before He would die, a grain of wheat that would then bear much fruit. And after He died He would be lifted up and draw everyone to Himself.

We who claim the name Christian are now the beneficiaries of Jesus and His mission and ministry. The question the Greeks asked, we need to ask: “ We would like to see Jesus.” And we too will be shocked by His words to us: We too must be like a grain of wheat and die to ourselves so that we will produce much fruit. And the fruit we produce? That is to be determined by how we actually hear His words.

If we remember Jeremiah’s words, God’s covenant is within us, written on our hearts. And the covenant calls us to die to self so we are able to live for others. When we do this, we will be showing Jesus to others by the way we talk to them, love them, treat them, and go out of our way for them and by how we include them in our life and good works. This will be especially true of the most needy in our world and neighborhood.

When we act for others, we will reach out beyond our comfort zone and show anyone we meet the loving concern Jesus has for us. Jesus is life-changing.