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Back The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Friday, March 19, 2021
From the Desk of Fr. Ron,
As we celebrate this Fifth Sunday of Lent in our cycle “B” schedule of Biblical lessons, in the Gospel of John, we hear some of the Greek Gentiles asking the Apostles: “we would like to see Jesus.” (John 12:21). When Jesus is made aware of their inquiry, John records for us a lengthy but rich teaching. With the Gentiles making inquiry, Jesus knows that “His Hour” is at hand for it would be after His death and resurrection that Peter and Paul would behold many Gentiles coming to faith in Him. Jesus shares a prophetic word about martyrdom that is filled with wisdom: “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). Though there is no recall of an “agony in the garden” within the Gospel of John, Jesus confronts His future suffering by saying: “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.” (John 12:27-28). Jesus fearlessly says, “bring it on Lord!” Finally saying: “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself” (John 12:32). John the Evangelist interprets this line as a prediction of His death on the cross, but it also may indicate His drawing all through His resurrection to new life.
As the Letter to the Hebrews implies that by His death and resurrection “He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9). It would be in fulfilling God’s will that Jesus would fulfill the words of the Prophet Jeremiah who declared that God would create a New Covenant with His people. This would be so through the gift of the Spirit that would proceed from the Father and the Son. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days. I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. They will no longer teach their friends and relatives, ‘Know the LORD!’ Everyone, from least to greatest, shall know me for I will forgive their iniquity and no longer remember their sin.” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).
Many times, in the past I would think that it would have been easier to be a follower of Jesus when He walked upon the earth. But that isn’t necessarily so. For they didn’t have the benefit of centuries of developed faith and testimony that we have at our disposal. I’m sure that later in the Christian walk many of them would echo some of what we say many times: “If only I knew then what I know now!” We are joining with the Greeks in their inquiry “Sir, may we see Jesus?” We don’t have too far to look.
Of course, we have the belief within our Sacramental life especially the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. But we also have His presence active in the many selfless acts of love, devotion, and service of many of His followers to their neighbors. Catholic Charities is a fine example of the many ways our organized faith reaches out our hands to the poor in our world today. Many find the hand of Jesus touching their lives through: Food Pantries, Mental Health clinical services, chemical dependency clinics, Marriage Counseling services, work readiness services, Refugee Preventive Services, domestic violence services, Immigration assistance, adult day programs, and Alzheimer’s Caregiver services, throughout the eight counties of Western NY. Catholic Charities is worthy of our prayer and support. May God continue to help us all shine brightly so that Jesus be seen in our loving service one to another.