During this Holy Week we invite you to contemplate Jesus’ death and resurrection through the words of Jean Vanier’s reflection on John 12:12-50.
Dying to the elements of our culture and ways of living
In this chapter of the Gospel of John,
We are being led further and deeper
into the gift of God for humanity.
The hour has come for the reign of Jesus, the reign of love,
to be announced to all people from all cultures.
The seeds of universal peace are going to be sown
in the hearts of people through the death of Jesus.
This openness to those who are different implies a deeper purification,
a death to aspects of one’s own culture and ways of doing things,
even the ways we think or use words,
that close people up in themselves or in their own culture.
We are all part of a culture and love certain values –
we have rituals that we follow
that give a cohesion to our communities,
that strengthen our identity.
However, some of these are not necessarily in harmony with the
message of Jesus and the fulfillment of the gospel message.
As Christians, we may want to follow Jesus
while also holding on to certain rituals and external signs
of our own culture.
Religion, culture and national pride
can become so bound up in one another
that they prevent growth in universal love
and in the life of the Spirit.
We can be unable to understand the way people in other cultures
Many countries in Europe imposed their culture and language
as well as their religious beliefs on aboriginal peoples,
whose culture was destroyed as a result.
How difficult it is to leave behind elements of our culture,
and even of our churches, that forge so much of our identity.
How difficult it is to accept the brokenness
of our societies, cultures and religious traditions,
to be open and to learn from the culture of other people
and to live accordingly to the urging of the Spirit of God.
This openness to and respect for others implies a belief
in our common humanity,
in the beauty of other cultures, and in God’s love for each person.
We are one human race.
We human beings are all fundamentally the same.
We are all people with vulnerable hearts,
yearning to love and be loved and valued.
This openness, which brings together the people who are different,
is inspired by love,
a love that sees the value in others through and in their differences
and the difficulties they might have,
a love that is humble, vulnerable and welcoming.
Jesus does not enter Jerusalem triumphantly,
but humbly, gently, sitting on a baby donkey.
Peace comes as we approach others humbly, disarmed,
from a place of truth,
not from a place of superiority.
Vanier, Jean. Drawn into the Mystery of Jesus through the Gospel of John. (New York: Paulist Press, 2004), 213-215.