Sunday, March 18, 2018, Fifth Sunday of Lent Year B
Lent, the hour with Christ
The hour of Jesus is a noticeably prominent theme in the Gospel according to John. The first part of the Gospel of John, that is Chapter 1-11 stressed that the hour of Jesus had not yet come. In effect, the narrator and Jesus himself emphasize several times that his hour had not yet come (2:4; 7:30; 8:20). With Chapter 12 from which our Gospel passage is taken, the evangelist now says that the hour is at hand. Hour sometimes refers simply and literally to a short period of chronological time (a 60-minute period during the day). “Jesus’ hour” refers more broadly and metaphorically to the climactic event of Jesus’ death and resurrection, which the Fourth Gospel also refers to as his “glorification” (12:23; 17:1). Paradoxically, the “hour” of Christ’s death on the cross is simultaneously His greatest humiliation and glorification (John 12:23, 27).
While the Gospel tells us that people are coming to Jesus like the Greeks, Jesus is more concerned about his death. Among the many nice points in today’s Gospel passage, we shall concentrate on the following verse : “unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest”. (Jn 20:24). Jesus shows the necessity for his death by an example familiar to all his hearers, the grain of wheat must be buried in the earth and lose its own individual life in order to produce new wheat in abundance
In talking this way, Jesus was telling his listeners that his death was absolutely necessary if there was to be a new life. We can call this “a law of sacrifice”, meaning that one can come to a greater life only by dying to a lesser one. Talking about the grain of wheat, Jesus is actually telling us that he is like a seed. Let us look at His life: Jesus had to die and be buried in the earth for three days, then on Easter Sunday rise glorious. Therefore we understand that God works through a process of suffering-dying-rising-from-death. Jesus is telling us that His death was absolutely necessary if there is to be a new life.
Lent is the “hour”, the appointed time given to us by Church to follow Christ more closely. As Christians, we are to share in the suffering of Jesus Christ. During lent, we must deny ourselves of our comfort zones, we must die to sin, and then we can rejoice with Christ at his resurrection. That is the process we are invited to follow in this period of lent.
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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