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Fifth Sunday of Lent B

Updated: Mar 27, 2021

March 21, 2021

John 12: 20-33

By Rev. John Tran

So, some Greeks come to try to see Jesus privately. Philip and Andrew go to Jesus and tell him. But Jesus does not seem to respond to the request of the Greeks. Instead, he launches into talking about a grain of wheat dying in order to live and a person who loves his life will loose it, but if he hates his life he preserves it for eternal life. What is going on here? Has Jesus just ignored these Greek speaking visitors or missed the point?

Actually no. The visit of the Greeks indicate that now the whole world is going to Jesus looking for answers, looking for salvation. This seems to be the ‘tripwire’ or immediate sign which signals that the hour has come for the son of man to be glorified. But he will be glorified by the Father in an unusual and stunning way. A way that will cause people to shield their faces and be stricken at the sight of him. In the end of the passage today, Jesus foretells the manner of his death: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

Jesus can no longer ‘keep his options open.’ It is time for him to go to his Father, but in a way no disciple or follower would ever expect or want. It is time for Jesus to put his life on the line and clearly say who he is and why he is here. Many will not understand; many will turn away, either permanently or for a time.

So what does that mean for me. It means that after I understand who and what Jesus is, I can not longer ‘keep my options open.’ I do not like this; we all like to have choices down the road. Unfortunately Christ does not wish us to keep our options open. In today’s gospel he presents absolute and urgent choice: himself or everlasting death. Jesus offers himself as light: we can look at the light or shut our eyes. He is living water we can either drink or close our mouths; he is the truth which we can embrace or turn away. Jesus is clear. This choice has life or death consequences.

Praying for justice, fasting so that others can have more, and distributing wealth through almsgiving are all the beginnings of just such a conversion. But if I do these things, how can they change the world? But think: the goal of our conversion is not to change the world, but to change ourselves.

Christ will change the world, but oddly enough, he cannot force a change in us. He cannot make us co-creators of that new heaven and new earth unless we invite him to come home with us, open our hearts, empty our fears at his feet, risk the ridicule of sarcastic people, and sit at table with all the others who are dead in sin, but now are risen in faith. We can only pray to the Father to give us the courage to choose Jesus’ way of truth. How many times to we have to be struck by the unexpected and inexhaustible desire that God has for each of us and be drawn to his Son. After all, we are the Greeks coming to see Jesus. He is calling to us and asking us to give up our plans and our lives to follow him.

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