5th Sunday of Lent (B)


5th. SUNDAY OF LENT (B) John 12: 20-33 - March 18, 2018

I say to you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit

We get to know a person when he/she is introduced to us; or we take the initiative to know somebody we would like to relate with. We have been introduced to God in the Sacraments of Christian Initiation. To know the Lord is to experience his closeness to us through prayer, repentance, and especially reading and studying the Bible, but also being more involved in the Church.

We hear in the Gospel today that some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover say to Philip, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." Jesus responds, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." He then says that in order to produce much fruit, “a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die;” and only the person who "hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life." Those who follow him, Jesus promises, will be where he is, and the Father will honor them.

A few people of Greek language and culture wanted to see Jesus, to know him. How did they get to know him? The apostles Philip and Andrew introduced them to Jesus. These apostles represent the Church. We also need to be introduced to Jesus and this first happens through the Church, by the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, and continues with the testimony of good Christians.

Jesus, knowing that his "hour" will include suffering and death, is very distressed; but being a man of so much faith and hope, he entrusts his life to the Father. This means that he is giving himself to his Father's will, and that the devil will be driven out. Jesus then tells the purpose of his "hour": "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself."

Jesus as a human being loved life and in many occasions we hear how he enjoyed being at a wedding, a dinner, or just visiting and talking to people. Now when we hear that his “hour has come”, he is deeply sad as he knows he is losing his life. The Letter to the Hebrews says: "In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death (…) and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him."

In these past weeks we have heard about the covenant God established with his people, the covenant with Noah after the great flood, the covenant with Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, the covenant he renewed with Moses. In our first reading today, we hear about a further covenant. The prophet Jeremiah says, “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers (…) they broke my covenant (…) But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel (…) I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord.”

We share in Christ's acceptance of the Father's will when we too accept the Cross with generosity in our lives: "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. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." Dying is to bear fruit by separation from this world for the sake of the kingdom of God. In choosing to lovely care for a terminally ill husband, wife, parent, or child, means to “hate” his/her own life because that person looks forward for the day when there will be no more pain and suffering, but life forever. Service is hope in eternal glory. Only thru his suffering we get to know Jesus, and we know that his hour has come.

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