3.18.18 Sun. Wk 5 – Lent – B
Jeremiah 31: 31 – 34 Hebrews 5: 7 – 9
Gospel John 12: 20 – 33
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see †Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told †Jesus. †Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life* loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.
“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 your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” †Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die. The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy The Glory of the Cross
The Prophet Jeremiah was sent to the exiles in Babylon and there he was to proclaim to them – a message of hope: “Their lives would be restored”. And he spoke to them of a new Covenant that God would establish with them and it would surpass all previous covenants; the Covenant with Noah, the Covenant with Abraham, and the Covenant with Moses. This new Covenant would last forever and it would wipe away sin. It would free us from death. And the Lord said through the prophet: “I will place my law within you, and write it upon your heart and I will be your God and they will be my people…I will forgive their evil doing and remember their sin no more”. (Jer.31: 32, 33-34) This new Covenant would possess the power to make all of creation: “A new Heaven and a new earth”, and all of God’s people would be made anew. This is the Good News of †Jesus Christ, this new Covenant.
But the new Covenant, comes with a paradox. †Jesus proclaimed to those listening to Him that day: “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified” (John 12:23); but this hour of glory would come at a cost. “Amen, amen, I say to you: unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat, but if it dies, it produces much fruit”. (John 12:24) This new Covenant, that was prophesied centuries before the birth of of †Jesus, would be initiated through the Cross. The Father would offer His most precious gift, the gift of His Son, His only Son, the Son whom He loved. That would be the price for this “new heaven and new earth”. And †Jesus described His willingness to go to the cross as His ‘Hour of Glory’.
How many of us see suffering – as an “Hour of Glory” for us? We run away as fast as we can. We insulate ourselves from any kind of suffering, or inconvenience; but this was how †Jesus would fulfill the Father’s will. It would be accomplished in the Mission and it would be His greatest triumph.
The power of the cross and the sacrifice of †Jesus triumphs over the power of sin, and it marks the beginning of the end of Satan’s reign of terror on humanity, because the cross of †Jesus freed us from the tyranny of death. That was the power that Satan held over humanity from th beginning of time; the power of death, and †Jesus would end it – when He died on the cross. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, sin no longer has domination over us, and ‘the way of selfless love’ now lies befor us.
If we want to possess this new life, the fruitfullness of the Spirit, we must follow the way of †Jesus, and the author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote: “Son, though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered; and when He was made perfect, He became the source of salvation for all who obey Him”. (Heb.5:9) Our perfection, our holiness, comes through obedience to †Jesus who said: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (John 12:24)
When a seed is planted in the ground, it has a hard outer shell. But unless the outer shell breaks, revealing the fruit that is within it, it cannot grow. It just remains in the ground – dead – whithered – and it’s over; so that outer shell has to be cracked open first. For us, the outer shell of our fallen nature must break open. We must stop living the false self, protecting our image, being possessive of the things that we have. We must be willing to die to our old fallen nature and to live that ‘new – life’ in Christ. We must be willing to break the false self away; get rid of it. This doesn’t happen all at once. This is a day by day process.
The grace of the Holy Sprit buries us deeper and deeper and deeper into the love of †Jesus. That’s what the Gifts of the Spirit do! Just as that seed is buried in the dirt, the Spirit buries us in the love of †Jesus. We begin to cooperate with God’s grace and we break through that hard exterior of our life, our selfishness, our pride, our ego. We break through, and through the grace of the Holy Spirit we allow the fruit within to grow – love, joy, peace.
For †Jesus, the “Hour of His Glory” came through obedience – His willingness to die for us on the cross. And we recognize the glory of Christ shining through the ugliness of the scourging, the nailing to the cross, His agonizing death. That’s where we recognize His glory.
This is the paradox that we live as disciples of †Jesus. The more we ‘die-to-self’ – the more we rise in the power of God’s love and holiness. And the more we resemlble citizens of the “new heavens and the new earth”. Each one of us is called to be that grain of wheat that falls to the ground, that exterior hard shell of our false life must be broken. The fruits of the spirit implanted in us througt the sacraments must brust forth and bear fruit – the Fruits of Spirt – “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal.5:22). And how we carry our crosses determines the fruitfulness of our life.
The Crosses We Carry
There is the cross of being rejected – but we often carry it with resentment.
There is the cross of poverty – but we carry it with envy for what others have.
There is the cross of poor health – but we carry it awith anger.
There is the cross of human limitation – but we carry it with frustration.
There is the cross of unanswered prayer – but we can carry that cross with faith and trust in God.
There is the cross of daily disappointment – but we can carry it with hope in the promises of †Jesus. There is the cross of ridicule by others – but we can carry it with love for them.
There is the cross of betrayal – but we can carry it – praying for the person who hurt us.
There is the cross of caring for someone who is sick or elderly – and we can carry it with gentleness and compassion.
The choice is ours – how we carry the cross.
This is the paradox of the Christian life. We are glorified by how we carry our crosses.
“Unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat.
But if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (Jn. 12:24)
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.