Meditations for March are by Bishop Robert Llanos, Auxiliary Bishop of Port of Spain
In this Sunday’s gospel from Jn. 12 the Greeks approach Jesus through his friends and apostles Phillip and Andrew. In other words strangers are brought into the presence of Christ by those who know him and are his friends. Are we prepared to do the same? If so then we must also be prepared to first establish a genuine friendship with God from which Jesus may proclaim “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”. In truth, when one encounters Christ in reality, it is always an hour of decision, of action, of choice. When one encounters moments of grace one does not go away unmoved or undisturbed, we must either reject or accept. In today’s gospel Jesus proclaims that in this hour he is to be glorified. ‘Glorified” for Jesus means conquering the Cross not conquering armies and bringing nations into worldly submission. ‘Glorified” for Jesus means showing how perfect his love was and by example teaching us how to get there.
The way to glory for Jesus, the Son of Man, and for all of us is through death to self. Resurrection and eternal life is not a reward for undergoing death on the Cross and which comes only after physical death. Eternal life comes through death to self and because of the grace of Baptism it comes now. It is when we are prepared to die that our lives become most fruitful. It is in a genuine encounter with Christ, either directly, or through others, that “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified”. He is glorified when we take up the Cross of self-denial, conversion and death to self and follow Him to Calvary where our love is perfected and Resurrection becomes possible.
The process to Calvary is as important as Calvary itself. Calvary is the culmination of many dyings and risings in one’s life that in fact make Calvary possible. If Jesus did not act on behalf of the poor and broken in the society or speak against the institutional evils of His time few would have taken notice of Him. If He did not step out in faith and act on the Father’s behalf in healing and delivering God’s people they would not have crucified Him. If Jesus did not speak the Truth and shed light on the liberation of others through His compassion and mercy no one would have bothered to try and silence Him. Long before Calvary, Jesus was already teaching us how to die to self and become fruitful in our capacity for loving God and others. And so it is with us, the value of the final offering of our lives back to God comes from our willingness to go through many dyings and risings in our lives, all with the purpose of perfecting our love for God and others, and therefore glorifying God in our humanity.
Jesus teaches in today’s gospel that this cycle of life and death already exists in nature, that is, the grain of wheat (or any seed) when preserved in safety is unproductive but if allowed to die in the ground becomes far greater in abundance than itself. So if you want to be ‘larger than life’ then be prepared to die to self. The result of Jesus’ glorification is that He would draw everyone to Himself and He is eternal life. All of this is possible however because of the New Covenant spoken of in the first reading from Jeremiah. It is a Covenant that” will last forever” and unlike previous Covenants written on stone tablets or in a book, this one will be written on human hearts. This means that people’s commitments will be made interiorly and God will intervene directly through His Spirit given to them in Baptism. Jesus is the new Covenant and “has become the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him”. The next time you encounter Christ directly through grace or through others remember “the Hour has come”.
Father we thank you for your son Jesus who is the ‘New Covenant’ and the presence of your abiding love filled with compassion and mercy. When we feel judged, condemned, alienated, alone and forgotten remind us of your mercy and love and strengthen us for the journey.