The Scripture readings for this 5th Sunday ‘set the stage’ for the Holy Days ahead. As the Jewish people are gathering in Jerusalem to prepare for the great feast of Passover, the Jewish leaders are preparing to kill Jesus. (the Sacrificial Lamb!)
At the same time, Jesus visits Bethany, which is a short walking distance from the Mount of Olives, which is also a short distance from the Temple Mount. Mary anoints Jesus as a preparation for his burial. Perhaps Mary knew better than many what lies ahead for Jesus.
Today, we read about the Greeks (Gentiles) who come to Jerusalem to worship and request to meet Jesus. The first astonishing thing about this is simply – Gentiles did not celebrate the Passover!
Jesus’ answer to this request is very revealing about his identity and his mission – which are both deeply rooted in his relationship with the Father.
Jesus: “My hour has come to glorify God” He is speaking of the “new covenant” proclaimed by Jeremiah – a time of Universal salvation for all who obey Jesus Christ. Jews and Gentiles are to be included in this new covenant.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. The manner in which Jesus will glorify the Father is dying on the cross for the salvation of the world – the abundant harvest. (“But if it dies, it bears an abundant harvest.”)
“Whoever loves his life loses it.” Self-serving ways in this life are dangerous for eternal life. Jesus teaches us to he is the center of life, not any one of us.
“Whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” Jesus life and ministry teach us what he means here. Clearly, he loved the world and all of us, for it is the reason he came into the world. However, he is also gravely aware of the ways of the world that are in conflict with God’s ways and God’s kingdom. “Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world is cast out.”
We are wise to be wary of this world and its ways that seek to ‘kill Jesus’.
We are called to follow Jesus – “to walk eagerly in that same charity with which, out of love for the world, Jesus handed himself over to death.” (Collect) Sacrificial love!
“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”
Follow – Serve – Love Jesus in our sufferings and sacrifices – where we turn away from worldly ways – to Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. While it is hard to recognize in the moment, we manifest the presence of Christ to others specifically when we die to this world, and endure the suffering and sacrifices that entails.
Jesus is the grain of wheat who fell to the earth, died on the cross – was ‘lifted up’ – and was raised from the dead. His resurrection is the abundant harvest of eternal life for all who believe and obey him.
Our life is in Christ. Rooted in Christ, we shall bear the great fruit of eternal life.