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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Sunday 5th (B) of Lent

1st Reading (Jer 31:31-34): The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant, and I had to show myself their master, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the lord. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.
Responsorial Psalm: 50
R/. Create a clean heart in me, o God.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.

A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

Give me back the joy of your salvation, and a willing spirit sustain in me. I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners shall return to you.
2nd Reading (Heb 5:7-9): In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 12:26): Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord; and where I am, there also will my servant be.
Gospel text (Jn 12,20-33): There were some Greeks who had come up to Jerusalem to worship during the feast. They approached Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, «Sir, we wish to see Jesus». Philip went to Andrew and the two of them told Jesus. Then Jesus said, «The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Those who love their life destroy it, and those who despise their life in this world keep it for everlasting life. Whoever wants to serve me, let him follow me and wherever I am, there shall my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

»Now my soul is in distress. Shall I say: ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But, I have come to this hour to face all this. Father, glorify your Name!». Then a voice came from heaven, «I have glorified it and I will glorify it again». People standing there heard something and said it was thunder; but others said, «An angel was speaking to him». Then Jesus declared, «This voice did not come for my sake but for yours; now sentence is being passed on this world; now the prince of this world is to be cast down. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all to myself». With these words Jesus referred to the kind of death He was to die.

«Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit»

Fr. Ferran JARABO i Carbonell (Agullana, Girona, Spain)

Today, in the last part of Lent, the Church proposes this Gospel to help us attain Palm Sunday ready to live up to these mysteries so outstanding for our Christian life. The Via crucis, or the Way of the Cross, becomes for us Christians a “via lucis”, or the Way of Light, for dying is to be born again or, even better, we must die to this world so that we can live the Truth.

In the first part of this Gospel, Jesus tells the Apostles: «Unless the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much fruit» (Jn 12:24). In this respect, St. Augustine comments: «Jesus said He was “grain”, that was to be mortified, to multiply afterwards; He was to be mortified by the infidelity of the Jews and He was to multiply for the faith of all the people». The bread of the Eucharist, made out of grains of wheat, is multiplied and divided to nourish all Christians. Dying in martyrdom always bear fruit; this is why «Those who love their life», paradoxically, «destroy it». Christ died to bear, with his blood, fruit; we have to imitate Him to resurrect with Him and bear fruit with Him. Many are those who offer their lives silently for the welfare of their brothers. Through silence and self effacement we have to learn to become that grain that dies to get back to Life.

The Gospel of this Sunday ends with an exhortation to walk in the light of the Son lifted up from the earth: «And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all to myself» (Jn 12:32). Let God's light shine always through us to help us dissipating all darkness. It is God's moment now, let us not lose it! «Are you sleeping?; the time granted to you goes by fast!» (St. Ambrose of Milan). We must not stop being a light to the world. As the moon gets its light from the sun, we are to be seen reflecting God's light.

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