The 5th Sunday of Lent – 21 March 2021
Lectionary Readings: Jer 31:31-34; Ps 51:3-4,12-13,14-15; Heb 5:7-9; John 12:20-33
Theme: I want to see Jesus
The gospel for today discusses one of the most common topics for people of every generation: the desire to see Jesus. Just as it was in the Gospel, so it is today. We are all curious to see Him, but at the same time we want to see in Him not necessarily as He is (the Son of God), but someone else. In the sentence preceding the Gospel quoted today “(w)e have just heard the Pharisees exclaim: ʻLook, the whole world has gone after himʼ (12:19). Now, to demonstrate how true this is, some Gentiles express a desire to see Jesus – the first step on the road of faith (1:39)” (Fallon, M. The Gospel according to St John, p. 223). Knowing the hearts of people, Jesus does not waste time explaining to them who He is and what His mission is; instead, He draws everyone’s thoughts and intentions to glorifying His Father. He knows how close He is to the summit of His mission, which is the giving of His life for others, and makes that the main topic of His speech. “John uses a typically stark Semitic contrast between love and hate to indicate the need to choose what kind of life we want to live. If we love the kind of life that this world offers, in the sense that it is this present physical existence that matters most to us, we will end up destroying ourselves and losing real life, the life that comes from communion with God and is experienced through intimacy with Jesus”(Ibid. p. 224). This intimacy is something that we should strive and long for, as the Psalmist calls us to do today. “If, on the other hand, we hate the kind of life which the world offers; if, in other words, we recognize that there are higher values, and we are willing to sacrifice this physical existence (…) then we will keep this real life” (Ibid. p.225). This also means that we will participate in the real new covenant with God as Jeremiah describes in the first reading.
The powerful scene of Jesus glorifying God and accepting His mission of giving His life concludes with God’s response from heaven, which leaves everyone questioning if they witnessed a miracle or just heard thunder. And this is true for all of us as much as it was for those present there: we need to hear and see, and we need to experience that He is close to us. Only when recognizing His real presence in our life, can we share our faith, which allows us to give our lives day by day – in small and big ways. Only when we stay in an intimate relationship with Him can we share our dark hours when our soul is troubled and change it, bit by bit, into the glory of God. Every step counts. Every act of faith and love brings us closer to seeing God and enables others to see God through us. Let us pray that this would be our priority in the upcoming week.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Where and when do you see the real presence of Jesus in your life?
2. What do you do to prioritize God and give life to your neighbors in your daily life?
Bibliography: Fallon, Michael: The Gospel of according to St John (Sydney: 2008).
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Sr Grace Roclawska csfn, Australia, Bat Kol Alumna 2018