Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent

“At Christmas I no more desire a rose /  Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled shows; / But like of each thing that in season grows…” ~ Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost

Seeds cannot be sown at just any time of year. Everything has its time. The life of the earth, like our own, is punctuated by the arrival of the opportune time for each thing. And the time to sow seeds is one of these, the time when the seeds should be planted in the earth. In the cold ground, in silence and solitude, the seed starts it journey towards a new life.


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Likewise, in our own lives, there are times in which we are called to solitude, times in which the earth closes around us and leaves us in darkness. During times like these, we can either succumb to desperation or wait, nourishing ourselves with the little hope that remains.

One can spend his entire life without ever bearing fruit, rotting in the ground. There are seeds that are lost, seeds that never come to life. There are seeds that never sprout because they do not want to be transformed by time.

There are people too who may never be able to love another truly, who may never allow themselves to be transformed by life. They are the ones who live closed up in the shell of their egoism, the false adults who never abandon the stage of adolescence. They are the adults who don’t know how to make room even for their own children.


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True love, mature love, is that which allows itself to be sown into the ground, that which knows how to welcome the weight of the earth above it. True love knows how to let go, to be transformed. It knows that it must give its life and become unrecognizable from what it once was. True love knows how to disappear; it does not constantly demand visibility. True love knows irreversibility… permanence: the seed that lets itself be transformed can no longer turn back. The love of a seed is forever or it is not love. The seed gives its life and it can never take it back.

Christ is the measure of true love; He loses Himself completely, keeping absolutely nothing for Himself. He gives Himself in an irreversible way. Just as the alabaster jar was broken and its perfume “wasted,” Jesus gives His life freely without expecting anything in exchange.

Along the path of life, we also come across those who help us to love in this way. Deep down, each of us longs to love truly, through and through. We all get glimpses of the fact that we too can live life fully if only we can learn to lose ourselves for another person.

In the Gospel, some Greeks ask to see Jesus. They want to meet the true face of love, of whom they’ve heard others speak and were left fascinated because they intuit that therein lies the fullness of life. Sometimes it’s useful to seek out mediators that can bring us to Jesus. Often we are not capable alone. Other times we are the ones that are called to be the mediators who hear the longings of those who seek God.

Surely it’s no accident that the Greeks ask Phillip. He was from Bethsaida of Galilee, a border town, and so he knows what it’s like to be far from home and what it’s like to feel excluded. Phillip has experienced for himself what it means to be found, to be welcomed when you feel you are on the outside of life.

For the Greeks – as for seeds – there are proper times in life and steps that we are called to take. For Jesus too there are sequences to follow and moments that comprise His decision to give His life. It was never an improvisation, however. It was a decision He prepared for with His continual adhesion to life. We too are called to live every moment with our eyes fixed on the goal we long to one day reach.

Questions for personal reflection:

  • In what way do you love others? Like an adolescent or with a true live like Jesus’?
  • Do you find within you the longing to see Jesus?

A reading from the holy Gospel according to 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

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