Reflection for the Vigil of the Fifth Sunday of Lent (Cycle B)

By Thomasita Homan, OSB

Reading: John 12:20-33

Sister Thomasita HomanJohn’s Gospel has been called the “Precious Gospel,” and it is John 12 that unfolds the climax of the precious story of Jesus, the Son of God, who lived the fullness of God’s eternal and inclusive love. 

Our reading for the Fifth Sunday of Lent begins in Jerusalem as a crowd gathers for the Passover Feast.  Among the crowd were some Greeks who had come to see Jesus. We, too, come to see Jesus, to hear his words. Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” This hour is Jesus’ hour. This is the hour that Jesus embraces all of time, all of the world, all suffering and hopes, as he embraces his passion, death, and resurrection. This is the love that offers universal salvation. This is the love that reaches both backward and forward, and that we know right now. This is the reason Jesus became human.

Just for a moment, let us reflect on a memory from our childhood. Remember when our parents would ask, “How much do you love me?” And we would stretch our arms as far as we could and say: “This much!” That memory might give us a small insight into the special hour of Jesus. Jesus with out-stretched arms is saying: “I love you this much …and more, and more, and more.” He said it then. He says it now. 

The listening crowd must be confused as Jesus speaks of being glorified. An image of glory/glorified suggests: praise, honor, splendor, magnificent beauty (OED). But Jesus continues solemnly to speak of a grain of wheat, of dying…to become new life. 

“I am troubled,” Jesus says, but he does not pray to be delivered from suffering. He says, “It was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” A voice from heaven answers, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” Some say this voice is the Father’s divineAmen, to Jesus’ prayer. Some in the crowd say it is just thunder or confusion. 

What do we hear ? A series of huge things happen in a heart that hears. Listen… 

It is God’s intense love that brings glory from suffering.

Jesus Hour invites us to enter the story of salvation with love. Like the grain of wheat, we enter his passion, our passion, the world’s passion. There is an urgency to do this daily. In our living and our dying, we stretch out our arms in faith. We embrace our hour as he embraced his. What is our gift to our God of love? Our God of love…