Jesus' love of God never wavers even as his hour approaches
by Sister Mary Kabat
Today’s Gospel from John (12:20-33) has a strange beginning. Some Greeks tell Philip they want to see Jesus. Philip tells Andrew, and they go together to tell Jesus. We don’t hear what happened to them as Jesus responds by speaking of a himself as the “grain of wheat” that will die and produce much fruit. What is going on? It is important to know that this scene comes after Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem that we celebrate on Palm Sunday. Tension is rising among the Pharisees who see and fear the people following Jesus, and tension is rising among the apostles as Jesus again speaks of his death and the challenge for them in following him.
Amidst the tension Jesus embraces “this hour” to glorify his Father. The passage from the Letter to the Hebrews (5:7-9) summarizes the Gospel – “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.”
The first reading from Jeremiah (31:21-34) and the responsorial Psalm 51 give us the background music for the Scriptures of this 5th Sunday of Lent. I hear Tom Kendzia’s version of Psalm 51 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God, a clean heart, O God, create in me.” Jeremiah tells of the new covenant God will make with his people, one that will be written on their hearts. Through this covenant they will know the Lord.
Jesus knew God, his Father. He knew how to live for him and die for him. We want more than the Greeks who just wanted to “see” Jesus. We want to have a clean heart, a heart formed by God so we can know Jesus and follow him in life and beyond our death.