5th Sunday in Lent
Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. 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. If anyone 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. 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. Father, glorify thy name.’’ Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said an angel has spoken to him. Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself. He said this to show by what death he was to die.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, the time to relive the mysteries of your passion and death is approaching, and I know it is important to prepare myself to life them well so as to receive all the light and graces you want to give me this Holy Week and Easter. I renew my faith in you, the Son of God, my Redeemer. I place all my trust in you, because your grace is greater than my weakness, and I love you for the gift of life and the gift of redemption. I thank you for wanting to spend this time with me.
Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to know you as you truly are, and to appreciate what you have done for me. Open to me the doors of your heart so that I can understand my life and purpose here on earth as you understood yours, and make me strong enough always to choose you above all else. Grant me your grace, for without you I can do nothing.
1. We Wish to See Jesus. Do I want to see Jesus? How important is seeing Jesus for me? A strange thing happens as regards our desire for Jesus: people can be seeking him without realizing it. That is why the saints attract. Not everyone who sought out Mother Theresa or Pope John Paul II knew why they did so, but something attracted them, some facet of their life that truly reflected Jesus: his truth, his compassion, his peace or his love, for example. So, taking the first step toward him is relatively easy, because he brings an answer to our questions, fills a void we experience or satisfies a desire that is deep within us. All this is true and good, but Jesus is much more and he wants to give us much more. He wants for us not only to see him, but he wants to become our life, to give us a share in his life. And that is where he invites us not only to look at him but to follow him.
How can people see Jesus today? How are they going to recognize the hidden thirst they have for him in their souls? As Christians, not only are we ourselves searchers for Jesus, we are also called to be givers of Jesus. How many people would think of coming to me like they came to Phillip if they wanted to find out something about him? How many can tell from my behavior that I am baptized, and that I am striving to live a life of grace? Would they know to ask me if they wanted to find out something about Jesus, or simply find Jesus? Do I reflect in my life what Jesus came to give us?
Lord, help me always to seek you myself and accept you as you reveal yourself in Scripture. Enable me to accept your conditions to come closer to you and to learn from your Passion that you are nearest to me when I give myself out of love for you and for souls.
2. The Hour has come for the Son of Man to be Glorified…Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone... Jesus has an urgent and important message for these Greeks and for all his followers. Their experience of him was still dominated by his success in his discussions with the Scribes and Pharisees and by his miracles. He was successful and therefore God seemed to be with him, making him a very attractive Master and Teacher to follow. But that is not the reason we should follow him, it is not primarily what he came for, it was only to strengthen our faith so that we could accept the real core of his mystery, the act by which he saved us…, and not be afraid to make it our own.
When Jesus speaks of his glorification he is speaking of the complete mystery of this Passion, Death and Resurrection. That is what glorifies him, and not the praise or opinion of men. And he also says that this mystery is the secret to the fruit he bears. Without this mystery, his life would have been as any other great man’s, inspirational but with limited fruits that seem to fade away with time and the coming of new generations. This Glory is given to him by the Father, but Jesus’ dying is an integral part of God’s plan, it shows God’s love for us in all its splendor, and this splendor is crowned by Jesus’ Resurrection.
And Jesus invites his followers to walk this same path. Not only to look at and admire him, not only to “see” him, but to follow him, to walk the same path ourselves, to seek not the glory and success of men but the glory and resurrection that comes from living in Jesus and dying to ourselves as Jesus. That is why he says, “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone 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”.
3. Where I Am, there Shall My Servant Be Also; if anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. Jesus here makes two very consoling promises, the promise that if we serve him we will always be with him, and the promise that the Father will honor us for our service to Christ. When Jesus made these promises he was very much aware of our weakness, so he is really telling us also that he will not leave us alone in our efforts to struggle on and make the best of it, since he tells us elsewhere, on your own you can do nothing. If we truly want to serve Jesus we will try to be with him always. This doesn’t mean only a physical presence, but to carry him in our soul and in our spirit, to be always near him in our way of looking at the world and its needs, in our way of responding to the wants of my brothers and sisters. Being near him is offering ourselves with him to do his work, it means not shirking the Father’s will, it means trusting the Father and knowing that from the Cross comes much good. Being near him is looking around us and seeing that people are like sheep without a shepherd, and offering ourselves to bring them the truth. Being near him is dying so that others will have life.
The Father will honor him. What type of honor am I seeking? John and James sought the honor of sitting in the first places in Jesus’ Kingdom, and Jesus told them that these were not his to give. He asked them instead, Can you drink the chalice that I am about to drink? And when they said yes, he told them they would surely do so, but to leave it to the Father as regards how he would repay them. The one thing we can be sure of is that the Father is much more generous than we ever could be. His measure will be full and overflowing.
Conversation: Lord Jesus, let me see you. Let me see you with the eyes of faith. Let me see you in the Eucharist and let me also discover you in my neighbor and in his needs. Let me discover you in the trials and difficulties of life, which I can unite to your Cross to make them fruitful for souls. And teach me to experience your life by dying to myself so that others may live. Give me true confidence and joy in the glory that awaits us if we persevere with the help of your grace.
1. Do I really want to know Jesus more? What am I doing to attain it?
2. Unless the grain of wheat… Am I ready to die to myself so as to live a new life in Christ and to love and serve him above all else?
3. Do I really trust in God’s fidelity to his promises?