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5th Sunday of Lent

(today’s feast of the Annunciation is transferred to Monday)

 Scripture readings for today's liturgy

Jeremiah 31:31-34

Psalm 51

Hebrews 5:7-9

John 12:20-33

Today we begin the last week of Lent and will soon enter into the holiest week of our Church year. There are two things that strike me from the scriptures that we just read: the fact that some Greeks came to the disciples and asked, “sir, we would like to see Jesus!” Again, it seems that foreigners are the ones who recognize Jesus while His own people miss the point.

Then we are given an analogy by Jesus, “Unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die it remains a single grain. But if it dies, it will yield a rich harvest.”

These two phrases are key to our entering into Holy Week. We must have that request that the Greeks have, “we want to see Jesus!” I’m sure that no one would dispute the importance of that request. What happens, though, is that the phrase about having to die and be buried in the ground is one that we have a hard time swallowing. Yet, who of us is able to avoid that basic reality?

In these days I seem to be more keenly aware of death as contemporaries on all sides seem to be dropping like flies. Friars from my US Province – many from my own era – have recently died. I just had word that a classmate of mine from my grammar school days also died. I get e-mails every day about some friend or other who has died. Since this is a reality of life, why am I so surprised when it happens “close to home?”

None of us has a problem with “wanting to see Jesus,” we just don’t want to see Him on the Cross. We would rather skip ahead and see Him in resurrection glory rather than having to die with Him in this world.

Why is this “death factor” such dilemma for us? Who of us can add even a single day to our lives? So we enter into this Holy Week and celebrate the passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus and remember His words, “anyone who would save his life in this world will lose it.” So when we ask “to see Jesus” we need to see Him - not only as miracle worker – but as our Savior who was lifted up on the Cross in death that we might really know life.

As I move closer to my own 71st birthday I can’t but help think how much I need to take seriously this reality of wanting to “see Jesus” and what it really means. Amen!

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