Fifth Sunday of Lent

[Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Hebrews 5: 7-9; John 12: 20-33]

In today’s Gospel reading from John we are told that some Greek Jews approached the Apostle Phillip asking simply: “We want to see Jesus.” Aside from the fact that Phillip is portrayed as the ‘go-to man’ in this reading, the request to see Jesus is central not only for this reading but also for us.

“We want to see Jesus” seems for Christians to be behind every human suffering, social disorder and personal crisis. “Where are You and why are you not here visible in a world seemingly being turned upside down?” Where in the world is this Jesus? Perhaps we need to re-frame the question, not as a way of eliminating its constant nagging quality, but to clarify it during this Lenten season.

The Gospels tell us that Jesus lived and acted as a normal Jewish man – though with remarkable power, authority, wisdom and love. His appearance did not overwhelm; there were no neon lights declaring Him to be the ‘Son of God’ nor anything which would force belief. Jesus wanted people to freely discern who He is and freely choose to follow His way. In other words not only is Jesus humble and respects our choice but wants us to discern reality clearly. In the first century some clearly came to see God in Jesus but others (the majority of the Jews) did not. But Jesus was present to all believers and sceptics.

In our twenty-first century lives, filled with frantic demands on our time and attention, we want to see Jesus (a noble and God given desire) but, maybe influenced by Hollywood, we want a spectacle with lights, singing angels and thunder. The Christian God has never been one for Hollywood drama but One who, as the prophet Isaiah says, speaks softly as in the whispering of the wind. Jesus’ presence is not a matter of drama but our willingness to listen and discern His presence. This takes time but also a realization that Jesus is present always- though not in obvious ways. Rather than a mystical appearance of the Risen Lord (which can occur for a very select few) Jesus may be present in our daily lives in   your children, your wife or husband, a friend’s greeting, an unexpected phone call from someone or  in an unexplained sense of gratitude for the gift of life after a long day of work, Jesus is with us even if most of the time we are not totally ‘with him’- we need to discern Him and realize we are never alone.

Lastly, Jesus’ presence is not magical nor a way to avoid suffering and pain. These are part of life –I do not say that flippantly as suffering is always harsh- but Jesus promises to be always present to bear our crosses as He bore the Cross for us.

This is perhaps something for us to ponder as we round out our Lenten journey. Where is Jesus in my NOW?

Please help Mission Doctors Association as their doctors help the poor nailed to crosses of disease, disability and abandonment. God bless and Happy Lent!

Br. John Kiesler

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