Sunday, March 21
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.
This Gospel is squeezed in between two pivotal events — Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead and Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Jesus has become something of a rock star, a revered political icon, and a religious leader all wrapped into one person. It is no surprise that Greeks and Jews alike would want to see him. At first, Jesus does not disappoint in his response, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” This is exactly what they would have wanted and expected Jesus to say to them — hanging on his every word. Many who followed Jesus were developing this rock star+ image of Jesus that would bring restoration from oppression to the Jewish people. But then, Jesus says something that probably leaves his followers speechless, “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.” The grain, of course, does not actually die but is transformed into something completely new — roots, stem, leaves, and fruit. Jesus is here to transform us rather than transform the world around us. Jesus’ metaphor of a grain of wheat suggests we can grind it into bread and eat today or we can plant, hoe, water, harvest, and have bread for many tomorrows. We need to invest in today for many tomorrows. The path returning to the garden of Eden before the fall is a path of work, hardship, and doubt, but he leaves us with the promise of the return to the garden, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”
Are we ready for that? Are we afraid of letting everything go? Is Jesus asking too much? Let us have no doubt, Jesus himself, in his fully human nature, was afraid. “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?” Of course, we know what Jesus does next and does not disappoint, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” Lent is a season that should give us hope, but not without challenges. We all experience moments of despair and fear, especially in a year that we have had, but Jesus shows us the power of change first lies within ourselves rather than trying to manipulate the world to fit our immediate needs. The grain of wheat within each of us should be transformed to provide us bread for today, tomorrow, and forever.
-Deacon Don Poirier
CRS Rice Bowl Week 4: A Story of Hope from Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste is a small Asian country, slightly larger than the state of Connecticut. It’s on the other side of the world near Australia, and it’s one of the world’s newest countries—only 18 years old. In comparison, the United States will be 245 years old this year!