Fifth Sunday of Lent – B

22 March 2015

Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio
His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič

Jer 31:31-34; Heb 5:7-9; Jn 12:20-33

Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem during the Jewish feast days approached the apostle Phillip with their demand: Sir, we would like to see Jesus. Phillip then shared this with Andrew and they both went and presented it to the Lord. Jesus did not reply to it directly, but said that his hour of glory is approaching and he gave the Greek pilgrims, as well as his disciples and all his followers, some deep words of wisdom that teach us how to ‘see’ and encounter him in our daily lives.

Jesus replies with these words: 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. The Lord used this very simple example taken from nature in order to teach a profound truth on life and eternity, that it is only by dying that one comes to life. True life begins for us when we give up our own selfish desires and personal ambitions in order to dedicate ourselves to God and others. We become God’s servants by invoking his grace and light, seeking his will in our lives and making every effort to fulfill it as best as we can.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. It is only by spending life that we can retain it. Those who serve God and others, ultimately find true life and lead a fulfilled life. It is easy to relax and not get involved, to lead an indifferent and comfortable life, to be uncaring to the needs of those around us, but this attitude only leads to nowhere and also distances us from God and others. Only those who willingly spend their time, earnings and efforts for the good of others can eventually achieve a meaningful life. Life therefore is not what you earn or get out of it, but what you give to it.

Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. It is only by service that we come to true greatness. Selfish people have few friends in the world while everyone welcomes the generous. This is not only true in monetary matters, but also regarding our time, concern and friendship with others. We only need to recall the example of all the mothers of the world who selflessly give up their comfort, sleep and own needs for the good of their children and those they love. There is also the example of those good fathers in the world who have a proper sense of responsibility and commitment towards their families. These are the truly great people of the world, who make it a better place to live in, who are living witnesses of God’s love towards humankind, who by their example enable us to see what God is like.

The only way we can ‘see’ Jesus therefore is by following him in his way of sacrificial love. This is the only vision of God we are granted in this world. And just as Moses who also asked to see God, was granted a vision of the Lord from his back (Cf. Ex 33:23) so too we can ‘see’ and encounter the Lord by following after or ‘behind’ him and his example. This means living our lives the way he lived his, loving one another the way he loved us, dying to ourselves so that we can live for him and join him one day in eternity.

As we approach the final days of Lent and Holy Week, we can ask God to grant us the grace of humility in order to become like a grain of wheat planted in the soil of the world we live in. This is the fertile earth of our families, the dry desert land of our workplace and the bitter terrain of the constant sacrifices asked of us. It is in this soil of our earthly existence that we want to respond with faith. Faith at least the size of a grain of wheat or even a small mustard seed, in order to produce the fruit of charitable deeds that God wants to extend to the world, which enable us to ‘see’ the Lord visibly working in us and through us.

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