Daily Reflection
April 9th, 2000
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
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The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalms 51:3-4, 12-15
Hebrews 5:7-9
John 12:20-33

"The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified."  The drama is building towards the final revelation of just Who Jesus is.  In today's gospel, John sets the scene well.  Jesus knows His time has arrived for the great one-act playing-out of His obedient love.

Recently I called my brother's home and my seven-year-old niece answered.  I asked her who she was and she proudly announced her whole name.  I asked her if she were sure that was her name.  She answered "of course!"  "How do you know that that's your name?" I asked.  "My dad told me."  I advised her that she better ask her dad again, which she did promptly.  She knew who I was, but just maybe she was checking to make sure, or make me, her funny uncle, happy.

In today's First Reading, Jeremiah comforts God's people by telling them who they are going to be.  They were the people with whom God made an old covenant, but now a "new covenant" is going to make them even more identified as God's people.  No one will have to teach them, no one will have to teach friends or relatives, because their identity will be written on their hearts.  "I will be their God and they will be my people."  They will remember always who they are and that God will "remember their sins no more." 

The gospel presents us with some sound effects.  While Jesus is speaking, a clap of thunder brings His listeners to attention.  Jesus has been talking about being like a grain of wheat which must fall into the earth so as to bring forth abundance.  This is what "glory" is in John's Gospel, that Jesus will give Himself up for the world so that there will be abundant life shared with that world.  Jesus only seems to hesitate, but that is part of the dramatic action.  He says definitely, "but it was for this purpose that I came to this hour."  The thunder is not an affirmation by His Father, as with His baptism and Transfiguration, but for the listeners to catch on that the drama was beginning to get real.  "Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out."  Jesus knows who He is and who His enemy really is, not the Romans, not the Jewish leaders, but the evil spirit of this world. 

With today's liturgy, we are getting a phone call, asking whether we know who we are or not.  Jesus was obedient, as we hear in today's Second Reading.  He was obedient not to the doing of something, but to the being a someone, the Christ.  "He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him."  Jesus was Himself every moment of His life even to the moments of conflict and death.  He was grateful for Who He was and like my little niece, Jesus had heard it often from His Father and knew it in His heart.  He could not be removed from His identity and so His "falling into the earth" was an act of singular gratitude. 

This is of great comfort for us, except perhaps the words of Jesus about being His followers.  We are invited to follow Jesus as His servants by sharing in His singular act of gratitude ourselves.  There are many other phone calls in life asking us who we are.  We get tempted because of the implications of being who it is that God has said we are.  If we answer that we are the "covenanted-people of God," then our lives are also going to be glorified in the same way that Jesus was glorified; we will live in conflict with the "ruler of this world."  That ruler will try to give us other names and so we come to the liturgy today to hear again that God has claimed us in Christ as God's holy people and servants of the Servant, Christ.

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