Sunday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15.
The first reading, through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord promises to make a new and everlasting covenant with His people. In this new covenant He says he will place His law within them and write it upon them. How is that possible? Will it be possible? Yes, for those who turn to Him with contrite and humble spirit. Right from the beginning of Lent we are invited to turn into our internal dispositions especially through the prophet Joel (2v13) on Ash Wednesday, “tear our hearts not your garments”. However, what we always need to keep in mind is that His law can never be realized in us against our will. Lenten practices are therefore meant to transform our inner being and make us move from the law to the spirit of the law. In other words, Lenten practices are meant to help us become people who do things simply because they are either written in the Bible or simply because the Church teaches us to do so, but rather because our hearts have been moved to seek the good in it.
The gospel passage prepares us for Holy week. The focus point is Jerusalem, where the Feast of Passover will be celebrated. However, before getting there, the Greeks have to seek Jesus because there is something they expect to experience from him. They could have heard a lot about Jesus, what he has done (signs according to John) and that he was accommodative to all kinds of people. The reason why they had to come to the feast is that they probably knew that Jesus being of Jewish origin would not miss this important feast. So for them this feast was, perhaps, an opportunity for them to meet Jesus. Sin disrupts our relationship with God and in it we become unworthy sons and daughters according to the prescriptions of the law. However, the presence of Jesus presents us an opportunity of grace, mercy and forgiveness. We cannot ignore their attitude towards how they sought Jesus. They probably could have known Philip from the sending of the 72 disciples, hence they came to him and asked to see Jesus. Parent, catechists and leaders, in the Church, play the role of Philip. After having received the Word of God it is up to us to seek to encounter the person of Jesus through the sacraments. It is very unfortunate that most of us receive the Word and chose not take necessary steps of faith like these Greeks.
What is also notable in the Gospel passage is the number of times Jesus uses the term or phrase “hour”, that is, three times and once using the word “time”. This phrase or concept cannot be ignored, not because of its appearance in the passage but rather because of its importance in the Gospel of John. John, among many other references that he uses this concept of “Hour”, first used it in 2v4 (at a wedding at Cana). Jesus is constantly aware that He is on a divine schedule, and everything needs to happen at the right time. This concept signifies the time of fulfillment of Jesus’ glorification and his redemptive work in his death and resurrection (cf. 13v1, 19v14,27)
Being Lenten period, what we need to cultivate are acts of love, through Alms Giving. This involves doing something for someone out of love. This is what Jesus is inviting us particularly in the Gospel. Though he is in a way pointing to the kind of death that he will die, he is inviting us to have selfless-love so that we may die to self in order to produce fruits of faith. In the concept of “hour” Jesus is only concern about the will of the Father. He gives greater respect to Father’s will to save humanity. What we can see in our world is that our value systems have either been either compromised or corrupted. We seem no longer interested in having a value system which upholds the good of the other. Individualistic tendencies are seen worse even in family circles where members fight for inheritance or assets. Jesus is challenging us to think of the benefits I can bestow on my neighbor by a simple act of charity. We have done much for ourselves even after solemnly beginning this Lenten season, we still have some few days to set things right and do the something for the needy within our society through charity and alms-giving.
In our ordinary life situations, we lose or give-up some things in-order to achieve something we consider valuable or more important. What was important for Jesus was to draw all to himself through his saving death, even at the cost of His life and Divinity. What we need in this journey of faith is loving obedience as manifested by Jesus in the second reading. The second reading makes it clear that Jesus was human like us: he cried and even had to learn obedience through suffering. We also need to believe in the assurance of the promises and turn to Jesus for “the hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified”.
Let us pray:
We thank you Lord for your mercy and love. May our heart seek your in sincerity and truth. Through this Lenten observance, may we be transformed that we may always love You and our neighbor for the glory of Your name.