CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 14 April 2018

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Fifth Sunday of Lent: It is not easy to get along with God

Some Greeks were among the pilgrims who came to Jerusalem for the Passover. They had learned from their fathers to worship idols. As soon as they discovered the God of Israel, they embraced the Jewish religion. Their spiritual restlessness is revealed by the need they felt to see Jesus. 
 
This was not a trivial curiosity, a little frivolous desire to meet the star of the moment, to know him whom everyone was looking for because he had resuscitated Lazarus (John 12:9). Their desire to see Jesus meant to have an experience of him. The Greeks did not go directly to Jesus. They went through Philip and Andrew.
 
It was only by going through the community or the disciples that one could come to Christ. The Greeks who wanted to see Jesus represent the Gentiles. Their spiritual journey is the same as what every person, eager to become a disciple, must fulfill. 
 
We do not know if they were then led to Jesus or not; the story is not concluded. Their presence served as a ploy to prepare the ground to the topic to be developed. The aim is to show Jesus to readers, then a discourse began where Jesus made himself really seen (vv.23-32), showing his true face. 
 
He began with an image taken from the agricultural world. For the precious ears to germinate in the field, it is necessary that the grains disappear in the earth. A hundredfold life can bloom only after their death. 
 
The application is dramatic: it is about choosing to live or die. Jesus made his bewildering, absurd proposal: the only fully realised life is the one consumed by love. He offers his own life for others. This sacrifice is an antithesis of the Greek philosophy which considers  becoming an aristocrat, a prestigious and famous person was the ultimate glory of life (and now we understand why John staged the Greeks). 
 
Jesus believed this ideal of life a foolish proposal, and had rejected the diabolic suggestion for glory in the desert, ‘All this I will give you, if you kneel down and worship me’” (Matthew 4:8-9). 
 
Jesus explained to the Greeks the true glory: to fall into the ground and die in order to bear much fruit. 
 
There is no need to have known Jesus physically to see him. Anyone can contemplate his true face, the one that, through today’s gospel, he shows, a face “many have been horrified at his disfigured appearance” (Isaiah 52:13); “He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows familiar with grief, a man from whom people hide their face, spurned and considered of no account” (Isaiah 53:3). 
 
The face Jesus showed to all the Greeks or any one seeking to believe in Christ requires a total commitment. 
 
His proposal is “a great scandal for the Jews and nonsense for the Greeks” (1 Corinthians 1:22), but only one who, like him, dies for the brothers and sisters, is a successful person according to God.
 
● Father Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications
https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com/2018/03/06/5th-sunday-of-lent-year-b-march-18-2018/
 
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF