The Fifth Sunday of Lent [B]
Jer 31:31-34 + Heb 5:7-9 + Jn 12:20-33
March 18, 2018
“But it was for this purpose that I came to this Hour.”
Today’s Gospel passage immediately follows St. John the Evangelist’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, just days before His Passion and Death. Recall that even among His closest disciples, very few had any idea of what Jesus would soon suffer. So when some Greeks ask to see Jesus, it’s telling that He answers that the “Hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
The Greeks might have been impressed, thinking that they’d found this Jesus at just the right time: the hour of His glory! If Peter, James and John were there to hear Jesus’ answer, they might have thought that Jesus was referring to the fulfillment of the transfiguration that they’d seen on the mountain. However, on the mount of Calvary another type of glorification was to occur. Although all but one of the apostles fled from this glory, in this hour Jesus established God’s new and everlasting covenant, fulfilling “all the law and the prophets.” This covenant is at the heart of Holy Week.
The glory of the Cross is the glory of the grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying. Its glory lies not in spectacle, in the way that our day measures glory. Its glory lies in loss of self for the sake of an abundance for others, as Jesus explains of His hour: “when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” A covenant is never between God and an individual, nor for an individual. A covenant is between God and a people, and is for the people. God offers the new and everlasting covenant established by Jesus’ self-sacrifice to all peoples of the earth, that all of them might form one people as the Mystical Body of Christ. In Christ, each member of His Body has God’s Law written in his heart, in order to mediate that love to others through his own vocation within that Body.
The hour has come for each of us to turn away from the glory of our day, and to enter instead into Jesus’ glory. The glory of Jesus’ Cross lies in loss of self not for oneself, nor even only for God, but also for all those whom God loves, which is all peoples.