5th Sunday of Lent (B):
WE MUST DIE TO OURSELF TO SEE JESUS AND SHOW JESUS TO OTHERS.
- SUMMARY OF IDEAS
- “WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE JESUS.” TO SEE JESUS, TO SEE GOD, WE MUST DIE UNTO OURSELVES, AND PUT TO DEATH OUR EVIL INCLINATIONS.
- HUMILIATION IS THE PATH WHICH LEADS TO GLORIFICATION
Today’s Mass readings converge into a central theme: the New Covenant
Jeremiah explicitly announces a NEW COVENANT between God and His People, when God will write a LAW in man’s HEART and not on tablets of stone (1st reading: Jeremiah 31:31–34).
- “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people”
In the Gospel, Jesus foretells his glorification and implicitly inaugurates the New Covenant which has its FOUNDATION on the CHRIST’S PASCHAL MYSTERY —His Passion, Death and Resurrection— symbolized by the death and fecundity of the GRAIN OF WHEAT.
- “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 (Jn 12: 24)”
The NEW COVENANT, which is the LAW OF CHRIST, the LAW OF GRACE AND GOD’S PRESENCE IN THE SOUL OF THE BAPTIZED, required DEATH AND LIFE, and demanded TOTAL SELF-GIVING, LOVE AND SACRIFICE OF CHRIST, whose sufferings out of love for mankind brought about its SALVATION for those who believe, obey and follow Him (2nd reading: Hebrews 5:7–9).
- “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
2. “WE WOULD LIKE TO SEE JESUS.” TO SEE JESUS, TO SEE GOD, WE MUST DIE UNTO OURSELVES, AND PUT TO DEATH OUR EVIL INCLINATIONS.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of the grain of wheat that falls to the ground, dies and bears much fruit. This is his response to some Greeks who approached Philip asking: “we would like to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21).
- The request of these anonymous Greeks is a proof of the thirst to see and to know Christ which is in every person’s heart.
- This thirst and hunger to see and possess God, to have a personal relationship with Him is possible if we are properly disposed to receive Him and put the necessary means to pave the way for a personal encounter with Jesus.
- Jesus’ reply to the Greeks provides us the answer: the death of the grain of wheat will bring about much fruit, symbolizing His Death on the Cross, and showing us the same way to provide a place for God in our heart and life by putting death to the old man in us –to our evil inclinations brought about by the consequences of original sin, forgetting ourselves, our pride, egoism and comfort– so as Christ would and could live in us.
Dear friends: Jesus asks from each one of us —followers of Christ— to live the same attitudes and virtues He taught and practised: total self-giving, dying unto one’s self, sacrificing one’s self out of love in order to bear fruit and to be supernaturally effective: “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 (Jn 12:25-26).”
This is the Christian paradox: ONLY THROUGH HUMILIATION SHALL ONE ARRIVE AT HIS GLORIFICATION. IN CHRIST’S LIFE, AND THUS, IN OUR LIFE AS CHRISTIANS, LET US NOT FORGET THAT THE PATH WHICH LEADS TO GLORIFICATION IS THAT OF HUMILIATION.
- “It was appropriate that the loftiness of his glorification should be preceded by the lowliness of his passion” (St Augustine, In Ioann. Evang., 1, 8). “Christ has suffered; let us die to sin. Christ is risen; let us live for God. Christ has passsed from this world to the Father; let us not be attached to this earth with our hearts but follow him in the things of above. Our Lord was hung on the wood of the Cross; let us crucify concupiscence of the flesh. he lay in the tomb; buried with him, let us forget past things; he is seated in Heaven; let us concentrate our longing on our desires to supreme things” (S. Augustine, Discourse 229/D, 1).
- This is a lesson and an encouragement to the Christian, who should see every type of suffering and contradiction as a sharing in Christ’s Cross, which redeems us and exalts us. To be supernaturally effective, a person has to die to himself, forgetting his comfort and shedding his selfishness. “If the grain of wheat does not die, it remains unfruitful. Don’t you want to be a grain of wheat, to die through mortification, and to yield a rich harvest? May Jesus bless your wheat-field!” (J. Escrivá, The Way, 199).
- This was how Christ lived and this is how we, Christians, should live as well: Only by dying unto ourselves through mortification, forgetting our comfort and shedding our selfishness; only by saying no to our disordered inclinations and passions —pride, envy, lust, laziness, avarice, vanity, anger— shall Christ live in us and shall we yield fruits of holiness and apostolate and then, we, as Christians, instruments of God, could also show to others the face of Christ through our struggle to be faithful followers of Christ.
By your help, we beseech you, Lord our God, may we walk eagerly in that same charity with which, out of love for the world, your Son handed himself over to death. Through our Lord….Amen. Collect prayer, Mass proper.
Mary Most Holy, we ask you: show Jesus to us and help us show Jesus to others through our struggle to live as faithful Christians imitating Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo.