Suy Niệm – Chúa Nhật 5 Mùa Chay – April 18 – Năm B

Giuse
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Suy Niệm:   Đức Giêsu dù biết chắc sứ mệnh Thiên Chúa Cha muốn Ngài thực hiện là đi con đường Thập Giá, con đường đau khổ. Nhưng vì sống kiếp con người mỏng dòn, bản tính yếu đuối. Đức Giêsu vẫn cảm thấy xao xuyến, bối rối khi chén đắng gần kề. Trong những giây phút đó, Đức Giêsu đã không ngừng hướng nhìn lên Cha, cầu khẩn, phó thác mọi sự trong tay Cha.

Cầu Nguyện:  Lạy Chúa Giêsu, phải chăng cuộc đời chỉ có ý nghĩa, chỉ có giá trị khi con người biết sống quên mình, biết nghĩ đến tha nhân?

Vâng, nếu hạt lúa mì rơi xuống đất không thối đi, thì nó sẽ trơ trọi một mình. Nhưng nếu nó thối đi, sẽ sinh nhiều bông hoa. Ước gì cuộc đời chúng con là hạt lúa được chôn vùi – chôn vùi chính mình, để nẩy sinh nhiều bông hạt yêu thương cho Chúa, cho tha nhân. Amen.

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Chúa Nhật 5 Mùa Chay – Năm B

 

BÀI ĐỌC I: Gr 31, 31-34

“Ta sẽ ký kết giao ước mới và Ta sẽ không còn nhớ tội lỗi nữa”.

Bài trích sách Tiên tri Giêrêmia.

Chúa phán: “Đây tới ngày Ta ký kết giao ước mới với nhà Israel và nhà Giuđa, giao ước này không giống như giao ước Ta đã ký kết với tổ phụ của chúng trong ngày Ta cầm tay chúng dắt ra khỏi đất Ai-cập; giao ước ấy chính chúng đã phản bội, mặc dầu Ta thống trị chúng”. Chúa phán: “Đây là giao ước Ta sẽ ký kết với nhà Israel sau những ngày đó. Ta sẽ đặt lề luật của Ta trong đáy lòng chúng, và sẽ ghi trong tâm hồn chúng; Ta sẽ là Chúa của chúng, và chúng sẽ là dân của Ta”. Chúa phán: “Người này sẽ không còn phải dạy người nọ, anh sẽ không còn phải dạy em rằng: “Ngươi hãy nhìn biết Chúa”, vì mọi người từ nhỏ chí lớn đều nhìn biết Ta, vì Ta sẽ tha tội ác của chúng, và sẽ không còn nhớ đến tội lỗi của chúng”.

Đó là lời Chúa.

 

ĐÁP CA: Tv 50, 3-4. 12-13. 14-15

Đáp: Ôi lạy Chúa, xin tạo cho con quả tim trong sạch (c. 12a).

Xướng: 1) Lạy Chúa, nguyện thương con theo lòng nhân hậu Chúa, xoá tội con theo lượng cả đức từ bi. Xin rửa con tuyệt gốc lỗi lầm, và tẩy con sạch lâng tội ác. – Đáp.

2) Ôi lạy Chúa, xin tạo cho con quả tim trong sạch, và canh tân tinh thần cương nghị trong người con. Xin đừng loại con khỏi thiên nhan Chúa, chớ thu hồi Thánh Thần Chúa ra khỏi con. – Đáp.

3) Xin ban lại cho con niềm vui ơn cứu độ, với tinh thần quảng đại, Chúa đỡ nâng con. Con sẽ dạy kẻ bất nhân đường nẻo Chúa, và người tội lỗi sẽ trở về với Ngài. – Đáp.

 

BÀI ĐỌC II: Dt 5, 7-9

“Người đã học vâng phục và đã trở nên căn nguyên ơn cứu độ đời đời”.

Bài trích thư gởi tín hữu Do-thái.

Khi còn sống ở đời này, Chúa Kitô đã lớn tiếng và rơi lệ dâng lời cầu xin khẩn nguyện lên Đấng có thể cứu Người khỏi chết, và vì lòng thành tín, Người đã được nhậm lời. Dầu là Con Thiên Chúa, Người đã học vâng phục do những đau khổ Người chịu, và khi hoàn tất, Người đã trở nên căn nguyên ơn cứu độ đời đời cho tất cả những kẻ tùng phục Người.

Đó là lời Chúa.

 

Câu Xướng Trước Phúc Âm: Ga 12, 26

Chúa phán: “Ai phụng sự Ta, hãy theo Ta, và Ta ở đâu, thì kẻ phụng sự Ta cũng sẽ ở đó”.

 

PHÚC ÂM: Ga 12, 20-33

“Nếu hạt lúa mì rơi xuống đất thối đi, thì nó sinh nhiều bông hạt”.

Tin Mừng Chúa Giêsu Kitô theo Thánh Gioan.

Khi ấy, trong số những người lên dự lễ, có mấy người Hy-lạp. Họ đến gặp Philipphê quê ở Bêtania, xứ Galilêa, và nói với ông rằng: “Thưa ngài, chúng tôi muốn gặp Đức Giêsu”. Philip-phê đi nói với Anrê, rồi Anrê và Philipphê đến thưa Chúa Giêsu. Chúa Giêsu đáp: “Đã đến giờ Con Người được tôn vinh. Quả thật, quả thật, Ta nói với các con: Nếu hạt lúa mì rơi xuống đất mà không thối đi, thì nó chỉ trơ trọi một mình; nhưng nếu nó thối đi, thì nó sinh nhiều bông hạt. Ai yêu sự sống mình thì sẽ mất, và ai ghét sự sống mình ở đời này, thì sẽ giữ được nó cho sự sống đời đời. Ai phụng sự Ta, hãy theo Ta, và Ta ở đâu, thì kẻ phụng sự Ta cũng sẽ ở đó. Ai phụng sự Ta, Cha Ta sẽ tôn vinh nó. Bây giờ linh hồn Ta xao xuyến, và biết nói gì? Lạy Cha, xin cứu Con khỏi giờ này. Nhưng chính vì thế mà Con đã đến trong giờ này. Lạy Cha, xin hãy làm vinh danh Cha”. Lúc đó có tiếng từ trời phán: “Ta đã làm vinh danh Ta và Ta còn làm vinh danh Ta nữa”. Đám đông đứng đó nghe thấy và nói đó là tiếng sấm. Kẻ khác lại rằng: “Một thiên thần nói với Ngài”. Chúa Giêsu đáp: “Tiếng đó phán ra không phải vì Ta, nhưng vì các ngươi. Chính bây giờ là lúc thế gian bị xét xử, bây giờ là lúc thủ lãnh thế gian bị khai trừ và khi nào Ta chịu đưa lên cao khỏi đất, Ta sẽ kéo mọi người lên cùng Ta”. Người nói thế để chỉ Người phải chết cách nào.

Đó là lời Chúa.

Gospel Jn 12:20-33

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast

came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee,
and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”
Philip went and told Andrew;
then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Jesus answered them,
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.

“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?
‘Father, save me from this hour?’
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven,
“I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder;
but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
Jesus answered and said,
“This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself.”
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

Daily Reading & Meditation

 Sunday: (March 18): “When I am lifted up – I will draw all people to myself”
Gospel Reading:  John 12:20-33  (alternate reading for Year A: John 11:1-45)

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him.

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? `Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; 32 and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what death he was to die.

Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34

31 “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Meditation: How does God bring us into an inseparable bond of love and unity with himself? God is a covenant-maker who draws men and women to himself in a bond of peace and friendship. God established a covenant with his people when he freed them from slavery in Egypt and brought them to his holy mountain at Sinai. “I will be your God, and you will be my people” (Exodus 6:7; Leviticus 26:12). But his people time and again broke covenant with him and did not follow his ways (Jeremiah 31:32) – “each did what was right in his or her own eyes” (Judges 17:26 and 21:25). God, nonetheless, continued to send his prophets to draw his people back.

A new and everlasting covenant
When the prophet Jeremiah was sent to the exiles to offer them a message of hope and restoration, he spoke of a new covenant that would surpass the previous covenant which God had made. God intended to establish a new and everlasting covenant that would wipe away the sins of his people and open the way to God’s throne of mercy and grace (his undeserved favor and blessing). This new covenant would be sealed with the blood of the perfect sacrifice that Jesus would offer to the Father when he died upon the cross to atone for our sins. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry John the Baptist prophetically pointed to Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, was sent from the Father in heaven to became a man for our sake so he could as man offer the one perfect sacrifice that would unite us with God and give us everlasting life.

Jesus’ hour of glory
Shortly before the Jewish feast of Passover, Jesus announced to his disciples that the “hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified” (John 12:23). The Son of Man is a prophetic title for the Messiah recorded in the prophecy of Daniel (see the Book of Daniel 7:13-14). In Jesus’ time the Jewish people were looking for a Messiah who would set them free from the oppressive rule of Rome. Jesus came to set people free from the worst oppression of all – the tyranny of endless slavery to sin, Satan, and death. Jesus came to bring us into a new covenant relationship with God that would not end with death but lead to eternal life.

Jesus announced to his followers that when “he would be lifted up from the earth, he would draw all people to himself” (John 12:32). What did Jesus mean by the expression of being “lifted up” and “drawing people to himself”? When a great leader won a complete and decisive conquest over his enemies and brought freedom and peace to his people, he was crowned and given a new title, as Victor, Savior, and Deliverer of the people. A conquering ruler was robed in royal splendor and raised up and enthroned on high in the sight of his people. 

Victory through suffering and the cross
How did Jesus fulfill his mission as the Anointed (Messiah) King who came to bring victory and freedom for his people? Jesus knew that the only way to decisive victory for God’s kingdom on the earth would be through his voluntary suffering and death on the cross. Jesus described his willingness to go to the cross as his “hour of glory” (John 12:23) when he would fulfill his Father’s will and accomplish the mission entrusted to him. Jesus saw his death on the cross as triumph over the powers of sin and Satan’s forces of darkness. The real enemy that Jesus came to overcome was Satan who tempts the human race to rebel against God and his commands in order to create their own destiny through sinful pride and disobedience. Jesus took our sins upon himself and nailed them to the cross to set us free from condemnation to death and destruction, and the eternal consequence of separation from God.

“Unless the grain of wheat dies…”
How can suffering and death bring life and freedom? Jesus used the illustration of the “grain of wheat” to show how God brings life from death and good fruit through patience and suffering. Seeds by themselves are worthless and lifeless. Only when the seed is destroyed by burying it in the ground, can it rise to new life and bear fruit.

What is the analogy which Jesus alludes to in the image of the grain of wheat that must first die in order to rise to new life and bear good fruit? Is this simply a veiled reference to his own impending death on the cross and to his resurrection? Or does Jesus have another kind of “death and rebirth” in mind for his disciples as well? Jesus, no doubt, had both meanings in mind. Jesus’ obedience and death on the cross obtain for us freedom and new life in the Holy Spirit. His cross frees us from the tyranny of sin and death and shows us the way of perfect love and readiness to lay down our lives in sacrificial service for the good of others.

A new “creation” in Christ
If we want to receive the abundant new life and the fruit of the Spirit which the Lord Jesus freely offers us, then the “outer shell” of our fallen sinful nature must first be broken and be put to death. In baptism our “old nature” which was enslaved by sin is buried with Christ so we may rise to new life with Christ through the cleansing waters of baptism. Paul the Apostle describes this death and rebirth in Christ as a “new creation” which Christ accomplishes in us through the power of his saving death and resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:17).

This process of death to the “old fallen self” is both a one-time event which occurs in our baptism, and it is also a daily, on-going cycle of growth in which the Holy Spirit buries us more deeply into Jesus’ death to sin so we might rise anew in the power of God’s love, righteousness (moral goodness), and holiness. There is a great paradox here. Death leads to life. When we “die” to our selves – to our rebellious sinful nature and willful rejection of God’s commandments – we receive God’s forgiveness and the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit which frees us to love and serve others, and follow God faithfully. It is God’s free gift of grace (his blessing and favor towards us) and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to live and serve joyfully as sons and daughters of God.

Pruning and bearing good fruit in Christ
How can I practically “die” to myself so that the Lord Jesus can live in me and transform me into his likeness and holiness? It certainly means that what is contrary to God’s will must be “put to death” within me. God gives us grace to say “yes” to his will and the strength we need to reject whatever is contrary to his commands and plan for our lives. The Lord Jesus promises that we will bear much “fruit” for him, if we choose to deny ourselves for his sake and embrace his will for our lives.

Jesus used strong language to describe the kind of self-denial he had in mind for his disciples. “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). What did Jesus mean when he said that a follower of Christ must hate himself or herself? The expression to hate something often meant to prefer less. Jesus says that nothing should get in the way of our preferring him and the will of our heavenly Father above all else. Paul the Apostle reminds us that “what is sown in the earth is subject to decay, what rises is incorruptible” (1 Corinthians15:42). Do you believe in the power and victory of Christ’s saving cross and resurrection? And are you ready to reject whatever is contrary to God’s commands and to trust him for the strength and joy to embrace his will for your life?

“Lord Jesus, let me be wheat sown in the earth, to be harvested for you. I want to follow wherever you lead me. Give me fresh hope and joy in serving you all the days of my life.”

Psalm 51:3-4,12-15

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in thy sight, so that thou art justified in thy sentence and blameless in thy judgment.
12 Restore to me the joy of thy salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners will return to thee.
14 Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of thy deliverance.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Love what is in the image of God, by Caesarius of Arles (470-543 AD)

“Whatever you love is either the same as yourself, below you or above you. If what you love is beneath you, love it to comfort it, care for it and to use it but not to cling to it. For example, you love gold. Do not become attached to the gold, for how much better are you than gold? Gold, indeed, is a shining piece of earth, while you have been made in the image of God in order that you may be illumined by the Lord. Although gold is a creature of God, still God did not make it according to his own image, but you he did. Therefore, he put the gold beneath you. This kind of love should be despised. Those things are to be acquired for their usefulness, but we should not cling to them with the bond of love as if with glue. Do not make for yourself members over which, when they have begun to be cut away, you will grieve and be afflicted. What then? Rise from that love with which you love things that are lower than you, and begin to love your equals, that is, things that are what you are… The Lord himself has told us in the Gospel and clearly showed us in what order we may have true love and charity. For he spoke in this way, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul and with your whole strength. And your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Therefore, first love God and then yourself. After these, love your neighbor as yourself.” (excerpt from  SERMONS 173, 4-5.25)

 

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