Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year B, 22nd March 2015

Seeds of Goodness

I am always fascinated to see where daffodils grow. Often it is in some unlikely corner which a few weeks ago looked barren and neglected. Yet in that spot, despite appearances, the daffodil bulbs lay hidden but alive in the damp cold soil. In such an unwelcoming seed bed, the bulbs germinated, sent out new shoots and grew into something beautiful for us and for God. If they were kept safely clean, warm and dry-on a shelf they would eventually shrivel up and die without trace. Instead because they were entrusted to such an apparently hostile environment, they had the opportunity to bloom, multiply and enrich their surroundings. Such is the process of all seed sowing and harvesting.

It is this imagery that Jesus uses in today's gospel to teach us that he had to suffer the horror of Calvary to bring new life to the world. It is so difficult to grasp and appreciate why the gracious Christ endured such suffering and death. But he tells us that without a hidden germinating period, a period perhaps of pain and disappointment, there can never be an abundant harvest.

Suffering for its own sake, can do as much harm as good. We have met people whose lives have been blighted by suffering - in whom bitterness and resentment have taken hold. The question they will pose is: "Why me?"

On the other hand., we have met people who have allowed their suffering to be tuned into the suffering of Jesus. They have not chosen the pain - but, having encountered it have made a choice: and asked, is this to give life or death? Their pain has not been diminished but it has been given a different dimension. They have set their pain into the pain of Jesus set an example to the rest of us. It is never an easy choice. Those of us who have not yet been challenged with an exceptionally heavy cross should reach out to those who are suffering and be one with them in their suffering.

All of us must continue to sow seeds of goodness and generosity even where they seem to be unwanted and ignored, yet believing that one day they will bear fruit a hundredfold. Sometimes we lose heart and we lose hope. The struggle can seem so pointless as Calvary must have seemed to be such a failure. But there was a resurrection after Calvary. So, too, for us there will be peace and joy even in suffering and death through the presence of Jesus who draws us to himself. Such is our faith. With Jesus, a new spring always follows even the severest winter.

Fr. Kevin O'Shea, C.M.