Christ is risen! (only a few more days for that Paschal Greeting! The Feast of the Ascension arrives Thursday!)
The old saying is “timing is everything.” How true! There have been moments in my own life when the timing has been off, very frustrating. This is especially true when you have a dream or even an expectation where the timing just isn’t right. As the scripture declares “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12)
But there have been those golden moments when timing and opportunity as a result of preparation, hard work, and wise choices all coalesce into the realization of some longed for moment. Ah, what joy, what affirmation! What a sense of accomplishment. A rare and exquisite experience.
But what if you know that your most cherished desire, the very heart of the reason for your existence, is only achievable by passing through great suffering? Would you still pursue your dream? Can the payoff be worth the price? Because, let’s face it, very few worthy goals are cheap! Most great visions require great sacrifice and perseverance in the face of a million naysayers and countless “false” friends. Plus, along the way to achieving this singular life goal, we struggle against our own fears and doubts.
After all, it’s always easier to quit than it is to keep going.
In our Gospel Lesson today, we see our Lord Jesus at another pivotal moment in His ultimate purpose of reversing the power of death for all creation, in untying the “knots of the Fall.” Look at John 12:19-36. Here our Lord witnesses a key moment that confirms for Him His goal is in sight, but there is a terrible price to be paid and this moment only confirms for Him both His correct path and His price to be paid for remaking the whole universe.
By the way, please don’t allow the Paschal season to end without the insight into why the Church has given us the Paschal Sundays of Thomas, The Myrrh-bearing Women, the Paralytic, the Samaritan Woman, and the Blind Man; as well as all these verses in our daily reflections. As we approach the threshold of the Leavetaking of Pascha and the entrance into the Feast of the Ascension, and preparation for Pentecost, we are transitioning from the joy of Pascha to the once again daily living out of the reality of Pascha. All these spiritual insights are given to us to enable us to perpetuate the reality of the death of death into our everyday lives. Without this reality, we are simply one more rote religion repeating old words – this is not, nor has it ever been the Orthodox faith!
Our Lord is coming closer to His last week of ministry before the Cross and He is with His disciples in Jerusalem. Here’s the moment that confirms to the Lord His right path and His perfect timing:
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. (John 12:20-24)
Did you see it? The Greeks asked to see Jesus. So why does this seemingly innocuous question trigger our Lord’s reaction? Because He knew that if the Gentiles were now beginning to move toward Him, the radical moment when the whole world would finally have the opportunity to enter into communion with God was approaching. The barriers of “those who can know God” and “those who were unclean” were about to be removed forever and the doors of paradise would be opened again and the angel guarding the entrance to paradise would be relieved of duty and the way to the “Tree of Life” would be open to “whosoever will.”
Today, are you able to discern the moments in your own life that confirm for you that you are on the right path? Is your insight into your faith so generous, so wide, so expansive that it makes room for the whole world? Has your spiritual maturity developed to where you see the depth and value of your faith and that very faith is shaping every aspect of your life? We are approaching the Leavetaking of Pascha. We are entering into the Feast of the Ascension, and we are moving toward Pentecost. Don’t miss one single moment and allow this purposeful journey to transform, inform, and reform your thinking, attitude, and behavior. All of this is for your benefit. The timing is perfect!
P.S. Speaking of perfect timing, this Sunday we’ll talk about doing Orthodox outreach to our local community for our Orthodox faith. As Pentecost approaches, we will also discuss another opportunity for our own Faith Encouraged Ministries. It has to do with our desire to create an outreach tool for local parishes. We’ll tell the whole story Sunday on Faith Encouraged LIVE!