March 18, 2018
The Fifth Sunday of Lent-B
Today’s passage from John is extraordinary. First, by itself, it contains more of Jesus’ message than is normal.
Its importance particularly profound for the entire Gospel. Secondly, for a liturgical selection, it is much more far-reaching than usual.
It will help us if we seek the highlights from the context of our Lenten journey. In these special forty days we are trying to purify ourselves and to free ourselves to enter into the great mystery of our faith, the death and resurrection of Jesus.
In the previous chapters of John Jesus had denied several times that his “hour” had come. Now he says clearly the “hour” is at hand. “The “hour” is his glorification in loving surrender to the Father in his death.
In a sharp break from the usual pattern for in John, Jesus has a display of fear and confusion that is a very human and tender moment. The text then quickly returns to the normal pattern of Jesus’ single-mindedness. “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 you name.” (Jn 12:27-28)
Jesus’” hour” has consequences not only for Jesus but also for us. It places the burden of decision on us, his faithful followers. Both in our response to Jesus and in response to the trials in our life, we need to trust like Jesus in our loving Father. Those who accept the mystery of the suffering Messiah will be free from the domination of the ruler of this world, Satan, and his legacy of sin and death. Jesus’ “hour”, the glory of God, opens the pathway to eternal life. Jesus, “lifted up” on the cross, offers the great gift. It is the source of life and love for all.
Despite the moment of hesitation, reflected much more dramatically in the Synoptic Gospels, John portrays Jesus as one who embraces the moment of glory in his death.
When John uses the term “lifted up”, as usual, there is a more profound message for us. The exaltation of the crucified Christ will attract all humanity to the freedom and love of this action of saving grace. This is our summons into the glory. In the utter contradiction of the Cross, we are invited to accept the deepest and clearest manifestation of God’s love for us.
Our Lenten journey, more than anything, is an invitation into that love. To accept this call to personal renewal, we need to abandon the relentless pull or our selfishness. We need to die like the seed to enter into new life. This is the goal of our days of Lent. This transforming encounter with the crucified Christ is our “hour” to give glory to the Father. The more we we place our eyes on the crucified Christ, the easier will be our conversion.