March 21, 2021: Fifth Sunday of Lent
Gospel Reading: 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 his 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.
“The hour has come …” In John’s Gospel, the appearance of the Greeks in Chapter 12 is the first interaction Jesus has with Gentiles. Jesus sees this as the conclusion of his ministry and begins to teach of the need for death for new life to grow. By his death, Jesus’ ministry will bear new fruit. His death is necessary. It can’t be avoided. It is why he came. Letting go of one’s life rather than the fearful grasping of it was a fundamental part of the early Christian tradition. It fortified them in the face of persecution.
Difficult times and monumental challenges can change us. We’ve certainly experienced both in this past year. But such things can bring about transformation. In this last week of Lent before Holy Week, take time to reflect on when you have put aside your own needs (died to self) to nurture healing, forgiveness and kindness towards another. Consider how you can make this a practice in the best of times as well as in the worst.