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Posted March 8, 2006

Book: Meditations on the Sunday Gospels: Year B
Compiled and edited by John E. Rotelle, O.S.A.
New York City Press, Hyde Park, NY, 1996, pp.165

An Excerpt from the Preface:

Contributing authors: Julian of Norwich, Anthony Bloom, Henri de Lubac, Edith Stein, John Paul II, Ronald Knox, Carol Carretto, Teihard de Chardin, Karl Rahner, John Henry Newman, Fulton Sheen, Hildegard of Bingen, Paul VI, Joseph Bernardin, and many others.

This second in a three-volume set of carefully chosen selections conveys the richness and the importance of the Christian tradition that does not stop with just the Fathers of the Church. Leading the reader thoughtfully through the Sunday liturgical readings of Year B, it is a perfect resource for homilies or sermons, or simply for reflection.

This book represents an impressive combination of the scholarly and the pastoral, the mystical and the familiar, responding to the hunger for spiritual nourishment. In one volume we can find Christian exegesis, theology, historical reflection, inspiration and helps for everyday living.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Gospel: John 12:20-33

Among those who had come up to worship at the feast of the Passover were some Greeks. The approached Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and put this request to him, “Sir, we should like to see Jesus.”

Commentary: J. Ratzinger

The image of the passover, which is fulfilled in the New Testament of the death and resurrection; the image of the exodus, the leaving behind of one’s possessions and the life to which one has become accustomed – an exodus which begins with Abraham and is the fundamental law of the whole of sacred history: all try to express this basic movement of auto-liberation from a purely selfish existence. Christ explained this in a more profound way in the law of the grain of wheat, which shows, at the same time, that this fundamental rule governs not only the whole of history, but also the whole of God’s creation.

“I tell you most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.”

Christ, by his death and resurrection, fulfilled this law of the wheat grain. In the eucharist, the bread of God, he has truly become the hundredfold fruit on which we still live. But in this mystery of the eucharist, in which it is truly and fully he who lives for us, he asks us day after day to fulfill this law which is the definite expression of the essence of true love. And so, the essential meaning of love can only be that we abandon our narrow and selfish aims and, coming out of ourselves, begin to live for others. In short, the fundamental movement of Christianity is none other than the simple basic movement of love, in which we participate in the creative love of God.

If we say, then, that the meaning of Christian service, the meaning of our faith, cannot be determined from the starting point of an individual belief but from the fact that we occupy a vital position in the whole and in relation to the whole; if it is true that we are not Christians for ourselves but because God wants and needs our service in the magnitude of history, then we will not fall into the error of thinking that the individual is only a small cog in the great machinery of the cosmos. Although it is true that God does not love merely the individual but everyone in mutual help and harmony, it is also true that he knows and loves each one of us as such. Jesus Christ, the Son of God and of man, in whom the decisive step in the universal history toward the union of creature with God was realized, was a concrete individual, born of a human mother. He lived his particular life, faced his own fate, and died his death. The scandal and the greatness of the Christian message is still that the destiny of the whole of history, our destiny, depends on the individual, on Jesus of Nazareth.

Seeing him as he is, both things become patently clear: that we should live for others and with their help, and that God, however, knows and loves each particular one of us with an unchanging love. I think that both tings should profoundly impress us. On the one hand, we should apply the interpretation of Christianity as a way of life for the sake of others. But we should live, nonetheless, in the tremendous security and joy that God loves me, this person here; that he loves anyone who has a human face, however unrecognizable and profaned it might be. And when we say, “God loves me,” we should not only feel the responsibility, the danger of making ourselves unworthy of that love, but we should accept that love and that grace in all its fullness and purity.