by Leon Suprenant
In the readings leading up to Holy Week, we heard much about Jesus’ “hour.” St. John’s Gospel alone refers to Jesus’ hour about a dozen times.
Jesus’ “hour” refers to his passion, death and resurrection — the fulfillment of the mission he received from his Father for our salvation.
With apologies to Winston Churchill, it was, for a time, his darkest hour, but even more, his finest hour.
But how does the “hour of Jesus” apply to us? Do we have an hour? And if we do, when is it?
Jesus’ hour was tied to his “diakonia,” to the mission the Father gave him to accomplish in words and deeds. Jesus came to give his life as a ransom for many and then, having accomplished this saving work, returned home to the Father (cf. Jn 13:1). Christ was obedient to the mission he was given, even to the point of dying on the cross.
We are all called to participate in Jesus’ saving mission through our baptism. Through their ordination, deacons are more specifically commissioned to be heralds of the Gospel in word and service as living icons of Christ the Servant (“Diakonos”).
As a layperson or cleric, when is our hour to fulfill our mission and return to the Father?
The Hail Mary supplies us with the answer. Our hours are: (1) “now”; and (2) at the “hour of our death.”
We must love and serve God and neighbor now, in the present moment, in the midst of whatever we are doing (even reading The Leaven!).
Our mission is not somewhere in the future, such as after graduation or retirement, or once the kids have grown up.
At the same time, many of us, especially as we get older, are acutely aware of missed opportunities to love God and neighbor well in the past. But all the spiritual masters would gently remind us that each day, each hour, we begin again.
Now is the acceptable time! Now is our hour. The Holy Spirit is alive and active in us right now, making us children of God. It is the work of the evil one to distract us from this most central reality.
Our “hour” is also the hour of our death, when we have completed the race and commend ourselves to the Father. What can be more important than the hour that we enter eternal life?
May we be faithful to our mission! St. John tells us that at the very “hour” of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, he entrusted us to his mother (cf. Jn. 19:27). May we fly to the maternal patronage of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians —now, and at the hour of our death!