by Victor Hoagland,
Meditations and Prayers for the Fifth Week of Lent Cycle "B"
Jer 31:31-34, Heb 5:7-9, John 12:20-33
Vincent van Gogh, Wheat Field with Crows
Our gospel today is part of the Palm Sunday event, when crowds acclaim Jesus by casting palm branches before him as he enter Jerusalem, crying "Hosanna to the Son of David."
Jesus is troubled as he enters the city, as well may he be. "My soul is troubled now, yet what shall I say, "Father, save me from this hour. But it was for this hour I have come."
It was a critical moment. Jerusalem’s religious establishment, resenting his words and actions, means to exterminate him. He has just raised Lazarus from the dead; his popularity grows; he could easily topple the uneasy balance at a volatile time and place.
As he enters Jerusalem a marked man, Jesus is given a sign to strengthen him, a very simple sign. Some Greeks approach Philip and Andrew and say, "We would like to see Jesus." In their request and eagerness to meet him, Jesus sees the lasting fruitfulness of his mission on earth. “Like a grain of wheat I will fall to the ground and die,.."
The gospel of John is known for signs like this, signs that point to glory. They are signs that say it is not the end, but the beginning. The Greeks who come as Jesus approaches his death are like the Magi at his birth. They are people from afar and they are the first of many. People will come from the east and the west; they will come from centuries beyond his own.
Like a grain of wheat, he falls to the ground and dies, but his life and his death bring much fruit .
Help us see signs like those you saw, Lord,
signs so small they may be missed.
Yes, signs are there in our lives and especially as we struggle.
Sometimes it’s an outsider
whom we never expected to help us at all.
Sometimes it’s something unexpected
we never thought about before.
Sometimes it’s as small as Bread.
You are the God who works great wonders,
but mostly you send us simple signs,
words, things that seem like nothing