Fifth Sunday of Lent Year B: Reflections by Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Jer 31:31-34; Ps 51:3-4, 12-15; Heb 5:7-9 and John 12:20-33
Christ, Source of Eternal Salvation
Our salvation history goes back to God’s dealing, promises and relationships with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and entire Israel, through Moses, the Prophets and Kings. This promise of a new Covenant of salvation foretold by Jeremiah in today’s first reading (Jer 31:31-34) finds it fulfillment in Christ; in his obedience, and teaching love of service and self-ultimate –sacrifice on Calvary cross to redeem us, to lift us up.
This redeeming and glorifying cross that we shall contemplate this coming Holy Week is the subject of the Bible lessons of today. In the Gospel Christ, “the hour has come for the son of man to be glorified. Amen, amen I say unto you, unless a grain of Wheat falls to the ground and dies, it produces much fruit.” He went on to say, “whoever loves his life loses it and whoever hates his life in his world will preserve it for eternal life.
When Jesus changed water into wine in Cana in Galilee, when healed the blind and the sick commanding them to take their mats home on the Sabbath, when he argued with the selfish Jewish elite, the Sanhedrin or rest Lazarus from the death (John 11: 1-53), he knew his arrest , trial, crucifixion or death was on the way.
Humanly speaking this passion could be seen as a defeat but divinely for Joahannine Jesus this is where the glory of God is discovered. It is exaltation. In his arrest, trial and mockery and crucifixion during the Holy Week passion narratives, (Matt 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 22-23),especially in John 18-19 Jesus actually looked forward to this hour of the Cross, of the Glory, source of eternal life. As he goes through the process of this hour, he is not only in ironical control, putting Pilate, the Gentile himself to trial (John 18:28-19:16) he carries his cross by himself (John 19:16-18).
Christ by his death on the cross definitely drew everyone to himself (John 12:20-23), Jesus the Nazoreaon, the King of the Jews was written on the Cross above his head in Hebrew, Greek and Roman (John 19:19-22) by Pilate in all the most important sacred and secular languages of his time, drawing the Jews and the Gentile to faith in him.
With the ushering in of Passion Week next Sunday, and as Jesus is about to depart, Paul and John reminds us that our obedience to God and of willing sacrifices to serve him through our neighbors will never be in vain (Heb 5:7-9). The best way to follow Jesus is to imitate his endurance, his moral courage, his way of life. We can do this through how we forgive those who acts like Annas, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin or Pilate towards us. We can do this by the way we empower and lift up others in our day to day encounter and how we love and bring them to share in Christ the source of Eternal life.