5th Sunday – Lent, Year B

John 12:20-33

 20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. 23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. 27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. 30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
Reflection, by Fr Aldo, sx
Some important people manifested their desire to see Jesus.  His answer to their request – unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit – makes clear that what is important is not to see him, but to become his follower. The central point of this analogy is not to die but to live and multiply life.

Therefore, it is important that we reflect about how we follow Jesus.  A very shallow way of doing so is to follow him just as an admirer. Philip and Andrew were much more than admirers.  They follow Jesus not just to see him, but follow in his ways.  Following in the language of the gospels means to get into the way to life, since the disciples journey with Jesus towards the resurrection. In this way, to follow Jesus must be for us something more than what we would do supporting and admiring our favorite singers, actors or basketball players.

To follow Jesus must be also more than running after and clapping our hands to him.  It is quite common nowadays to see great concentration of crowds in religious ceremonies and festivals, often broadcasted so that the whole world can hear and see the gathering of the “followers of Jesus.”  Some even try to grab God and use him as a tool to produce graces and miracles.

Following Jesus in its deeper sense has to do with the cross, with renouncing ourselves.  Fr. Cantalamessa once explained that we actually do not need to renounce what we are, for we are made in the image of God and that is already good.  But we must renounce what we have become. Far from God we become bad.  Conversion during this Lenten journey means to replace the heaviness of our selfish motivations with the lightness of the resurrected.

Following in its deepest sense is the obedience of the one who has faith. It is to obey the will God and the will of God is neither like the rules imposed by a dictator, nor a destiny with a predestined map to be followed. It is a route we trace in our day-to-day life though the choices we make.  In the biblical vocabulary, to obey is closely related to listening in order to distinguish the voice of God and this has to be done by each one, a perception to be learned.

Cross is not so much about going through extraordinary heroic suffering, but to deny ourselves, what we have become and return to goodness.

During this season we will be seeing again the scenes of the way of the cross; we will probably see movies and dramatizations about the passion of Christ.  There will be many gadgets helping us to visualize the passion.  But let us not forget that Lent is above all a time to believe, to recover our faith. It is a time to return to be what we are meant to be, repairing those aspects of ourselves which have become bad.

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