The Gospel for March 18th, 2018: The Coming of Jesus’ Hour
Reflection: Discernment to Accept Suffering
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you,
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” (23-24).
In John’s gospel today, Jesus tells his apostles the time is near for Him to die, so that sin and death may be defeated. That alone is worthy of deep meditation from Christian believers everywhere. However, I am interested in a detail that seems small, but significant as a part of this picture. Jesus is told two Greeks who have come to Jerusalem for Passover and request an audience with Him. Although we are not told why, I assume it is to hear him teach or, even more likely, that he may perform a healing, since this has been the thrust of His ministry for two or three years up to this point (20-21). When told about their request, Jesus makes the statement, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified,” indicating it is time for His Passion. It appears He does not meet with the Greek visitors. I ask myself, why?
I think John wants us to notice that when it is time for a mission, we must put aside all other plans, including previous missions. Jesus had been teaching and healing, but it was time for His Passion. He will not wait on His Father’s will. Furthermore, of the two options, meeting with the Greeks probably would have been far more appealing to His human nature. I am sure it was very satisfying to preach to audiences or heal the sick and receive their gratitude. Sometimes our work as Christians can be quite rewarding. Yet, the mission of the Passion was a call to suffering. Jesus did not look forward to it. He even admits, “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?” (27). And yet, he doesn’t delay in order to act like an earthly king and take an audience with his admirers. Instead, He knows he must act with haste for His mission, which demonstrates discernment.
As His followers, we must recognize there will be times God calls us to suffering. Like Jesus, we must put aside the more rewarding Christian tasks in order to fully embrace the less palatable parts of our mission. We must be willing to “die” to this life, so that we may participate in eternal life with Jesus. This fifth Sunday of Lent is good time to reflect on this unenviable truth of Christian discernment.