Sunday, March 18
Fifth Sunday of Lent
John 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.
We all experience grief, loss, or suffering at some point in our lives – favorite things that get broken, teams we don’t make, or jobs we don’t get, dreams delayed, or abandoned, broken relationships. Some of these events shape our lives and others are momentarily jarring, but everyone has something. Jesus reminds us in the gospel this weekend that it’s right at these times that we may have to die to one thing and let go of it for God to do something new in our lives.
The symbol that Jesus offers us is that of the wheat grain that falls to the ground and dies. It is only by falling on the ground and dying that the grain can yield a rich harvest. In a similar way we are asked to follow Jesus as the one who dies on our behalf and in so dying draws all people to himself.
On this 5th Sunday of Lent, where we stand on the threshold of Holy Week and the Paschal Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil, may we contemplate the necessity of suffering in Jesus’ life – and in our own life – as we hear Jesus also say to us ‘…where I am, there also will my servant be…’
Deacon Frank Iannarino
OPERATION RICE BOWL STORIES OF HOPE: WEEK 5
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Catholic social teaching inspires and guides how we are to live and work in the world. In this principle, Option for the Poor and Vulnerable, Jesus tells us to give special care to those who are most in need. He reminds us of our Christian duty to listen closely to those who often go unheard and to help those most vulnerable.
Alefa is a mother, grandmother and farmer. She provides for her three children, three grandchildren and husband by selling her crops. If they fail during one of Malawi’s rainy seasons-or in a drought-her family goes hungry. One particularly difficult year, Alefa was forced to sell some of her land to make ends meet.
She knew she had to start planting crops that could withstand Malawi’s changing climate. So, she attended a CRS-sponsored seed fair, where farmers learn the best crops to plant for the upcoming year, and receive vouchers so they can choose the seeds and supplies they need. Besides rice, Alefa bought corn, cabbage and tomato seeds. This way, she can continue farming rice but also feel confident that, even if her rice fails, she will have other crops to sell.
“This harvest will provide food, shelter and education for my family,” she says. In a few short months, Alefa will be growing corn and harvesting hope.