As much as I like the Cycle A Gospels (woman at the well, man born blind, raising of Lazarus) the Cycle B readings have a beauty all their own. In Sunday’s Gospel, we’ll hear how some Greeks came to Philip, and asked him to introduce them to Jesus.
This is the point in John’s Gospel when Jesus realizes his mission to the Jewish people has ended. No longer will Jesus perform any miracles or signs for his people. The only sign now will be his upcoming death and resurrection.
Jesus talks of himself as being lifted up from the earth and drawing everyone to himself. This is not easy … Jesus says that if he had his druthers, he’d pray that God deliver him from this hour. There’s a real poignancy in what Jesus says, and these verses form John’s version of Jesus’ agony in the garden. The voice from heaven is similar to the angels ministering to him that the other evangelists record.
Who among us doesn’t want to be delivered from pain, suffering, and loss? Those who are chronically ill must dream of having a day without pain. Those in poverty must dream of winning a lottery. Those who are caught in a difficult life transition must wish that the uncertainly would go away. In other words, we do exactly what Jesus did.
I always have to ask myself, though: would I be who I am today without the pain and suffering that has occurred in other times of life? Would there be the depth of person? The absolute knowledge that I am utterly dependent on God? The equally strong knowledge that God supplies my every need (though I admit to some doubt sometimes!!!). Would there be the strong desire to put the needs of others ahead of my own, the ability to change my plans or drop what I’m doing because someone needs help?
Look at it another way … would you rather pray before a cross or a crucifix (the latter has the body of Jesus on it)? I believe the crucifix would have more meaning for me. So too, life’s deepest meaning comes from allowing my body to be on the cross, and thus serving as a source of life for others.
Love deeply, pray faithfully, and laugh often!
Fr. Herb, C.S.C.