ST. AUGUSTINE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH, MORROW, GEORGIA
THE REV. BARRY GRIFFIN, RECTOR
My mother was a good story teller. Many years ago she told me a story I will never forget. She told me about the death of her sister, Aunt Ophelia.
It was early in the morning when my mother received the call: “If you want to see Ophelia again, come now.”
My mother immediately called her other sister, Idel: “I’ll be there in ten minutes,” my mother said. “Be ready.”
My mother and Aunt Idel entered Ophelia’s room and said, “We’re here.” Aunt Ophelia died within thirty minutes.
“She didn’t say a word,” my mother said, “but I think she knew we were there.”
“Your presence gave her permission to die,” I said in response.
In today’s gospel, Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” He then describes in symbolic terms what we call the Passion of Our Lord: Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross.
Today’s gospel is very poignant. It’s about death: Jesus’ death. It’s filled with symbolism: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour.
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
The hour has come, Jesus knows this, and he wants his followers to know it, too.
Today is the fifth Sunday of Lent. For five Sundays, we have walked with Jesus on his journey toward Jerusalem. Now he has arrived. The hour has come. Make no mistake about it: this is it.
If you want to see your sister again, come now. Ophelia is waiting.
If you want to see Jesus, come now. Jesus is about to die.
“Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’”
How strange for these Greeks to arrive at this most poignant moment!
Whether these Greeks know it or not, they want to see Jesus before he dies.
Do you wish to see Jesus before he dies? The Church gives you an opportunity: it’s called Holy Week.
Next Sunday, Palm Sunday, the Church enters Jerusalem with Jesus. On Maundy Thursday we are present in the Upper Room as Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper. On Good Friday we observe his betrayal, arrest, trial, persecution, and death.
The Greeks had it right: “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”
If you wish to see Jesus in truth, not as you might wish to see him, but as he really is, be present for Holy Week. Be present as Jesus suffers and dies.
Respond to the Church’s call. Be there.
My mother and my Aunt Idel were present for their sister’s death. They did their best to give Ophelia a meaningful death.
Each year during Holy Week, the Church calls us to do the same for Jesus.
If you would like to respond to this sermon or receive future sermons by email, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org