As I read the scriptures this week I was reminded of my Spiritual Director Fr Felix Eckerman,S.V.D. When I served in my first pastorate at St. Nicholas in Saint Louis. Missouri. He often encouraged me as a young pastor of purpose and focus. He said “The Main Thing is to keep the Main thing, The Main thing!
You see, as a young pastor, the youngest in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and youngest African American pastor in the country, I found myself at the age of 35 facing many challenges in leading the first African American parish in St. Louis. It was from St. Louis that the Pan African work of building bridges with Brazil began for me. As I sought to embark on this effort many obstacles would come my way, from many familiar places. Fr. Eckerman encouraged me not to give up by focusing on “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” by T. F. Tenney (Author)
In the Gospel of John this week Jesus is arriving at His hour. His eyes are set and focused on Jerusalem and His completing the purpose for which He came. Today we have some Hellenistic Jews, or Greek Jews from the diaspora, converts to Judaism. They ask to see Jesus. They are probably simply curious and want to see Jesus perform some miracle. Jesus’ response is one that is clear. Jesus understands that “the main thing is to keep the main thing, The Main thing.”. Namely the hour has come and now he must set his focus to Calvary and the purpose for which he came. Curious seekers are not to be entertained, they are not his focus.
“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.
“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.”
Knowing His purpose and setting His focus Jesus embraces the final steps of this journey. It is here again the clarity in Jesus direction. This ultimate gift of sacrifice is the means by which all are drawn to the Father. It is here that Jesus again commits himself to fulfilling his purpose. We recall John 3:16, that God loved us so much that we might share in union with him through His Divine Son. The Word or Verbum made flesh, and giving Himself for our sake, that we might be drawn unto Him.
“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.”
In our journey we are called to see in the example of Christ that we need to remember that “the main thing, is keeping the main thing the main thing. Whatever is keeping us from deep divine desire for Christ and seeking His purpose for our lives we seek the Lord to heal and restore. Let us focus our gaze toward Jesus’ ultimate gift of new life through His giving of himself. The second part to this is always how does this direction also become a source of strength and encouragement to see that others who find themselves either on the peripheries, or not knowing their purpose and direction, to also come to know and experience God’s desire and direction in their lives.