Homily for the fifth Sunday of Lent - Year B - Jn. 12:20-33
Father Daniel Meynen
" Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus.
" Jesus answered them, 'The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If any one serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if any one serves me, the Father will honor him. Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify thy name.' Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.'
" The crowd standing by heard it and said that it had thundered. Others said, 'An angel has spoken to him.' Jesus answered, 'This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.' He said this to show by what death he was to die."
" Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' "
This event took place on Palm Sunday itself, the day of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. This welcome of Jesus into the Holy City was so remarkable that the Greeks, that is to say, Jews who were foreigners, who lived outside of Palestine, asked to see Jesus. So how can we not see in today's gospel a preparation for that great Sunday that approaches: Palm Sunday, the day when we welcome the Lord into our entire life, with both our soul and our body, that is, by praying, but also by waving in our hands blessed palms, signs of the eternal Victory of Christ in his Church!
" Jesus answered them, 'The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified.' "
Jesus knows everything, for he is not only Man, he is not only "the son of Man", as he refers to himself, but he is also, and first, God. And if Jesus knows everything, how could he not know that his Passion was near, and that his Resurrection would come soon afterward? Jesus knows everything; he knows that his hour has come, the hour of his glorification! This does not refer to the glorification of his soul, for since the Incarnation of the Word, the human soul of Jesus is eternally glorified and sanctified by the Holy Spirit who rests upon Him. It refers, rather, to the glorification of his body, that element of his person that is so important to him. Is it not that which makes the invisible God visible on earth?
" Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
Yes, this is the price of eternal life! One must be ready, if God wills it and asks for it, to lose one's life in order to gain eternal life, the very life of God that is offered to us so that we might share in it. Our soul is immortal, but our body can be separated from our soul and can thus die: this is the fate of us all, ever since the original sin. We can, at any moment, lose our life and die. But are we resigned to die? Do we, right now, accept to die, whenever God wants us to, in order to gain Heaven and eternal life? Jesus has done so for us! Let us follow his example, let us ask him for the grace and strength to make this act of resignation: this act is the greatest we can make in our life!
" Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour."
Is it easy to accept death? Sometimes, yes; quite often, no. Jesus himself has given us his example. He is the Almighty, for he is God. But he wanted to give us an example of the difficulty we might encounter in accepting our death. "Father, save me from this hour!" This is Jesus' cry in this trial, the trial that he would relive even more intensely on the evening of Holy Thursday, in the garden of Gethsemane. But he immediately regains his composure, for the grace of God always triumphs if we believe in its omnipotence: "No, for this purpose I have come to this hour."
" 'Father, glorify thy name.' Then a voice came from heaven, 'I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.' "
Why does the Father intervene here? For it is not the Father who will console Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane: rather, it is an angel who will appear there to strengthen him (cf. Lk. 22:43). The Father is the person of the Most Holy Trinity to whom is attributed the blessing that is Creation: it is God the Father who created all the beings of the universe. So it is absolutely normal that he would manifest himself on this occasion: Jesus, who will soon be resurrected, will be the principle and the foundation of the new creation, that of glorified bodies, that in which all the creatures purified through trial will be glorified in the Holy Spirit, for the glory of the Father and that of all creation itself.
" Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
We, who participate in this Sunday Eucharist, will be able to sacramentally relive this victory of Christ over the prince of this world, or Satan, as he is called. We shall be invited by the Lord Jesus to come and take our fill of his divine life, which he offers us in the Eucharist. It is the strength and the power of his Love that invites us to join him in that place where he is for all eternity: in the heaven of our soul! May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary help us to prepare ourselves well for this royal feast!
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