March 22, 2015 - 5th Sunday of Lent, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
In the Gospel, some people from Greece want to see Jesus. So they find Philip and they ask Philip to show them the Lord. So Philip and Andrew bring them to Jesus.
We're not really told why the Greeks wanted to see Jesus. Maybe it was out of curiosity. Maybe they had heard about all the miracles that he had performed and they wanted to see for themselves.
Maybe it was a desire to become Jesus’ disciples. Maybe they wanted to follow him. Maybe they were looking and searching for something more in their lives.
Not everyone wanted to see Jesus for positive reasons. Remember, there were those who wanted to see Jesus lifted up on the cross because they wanted to see him die. He was a threat to their way of life and they wanted him gone.
We come here week after week for the same reason, because we want to see Jesus. Maybe others have brought us, maybe our reasons aren’t so pure and we come because we enjoy the spectacle, or maybe we have a true desire to grow closer to Jesus.
So we look, we search, and what do we see? We see the cross lifted up. And when we see the cross, we also see the crucifixion.
Crucifixion was a humiliating form of execution. People were stripped, nailed to a cross, and left there to die.
Crucifixions took place at crossroads where lots of people passed. So the crucified would experience the shame and disgrace. They would be mocked and ridiculed. The message was clear, step out of line and this will happen to you too.
But when Jesus was hanging on the cross, he had nothing to be ashamed of. He had done nothing wrong. He didn't deserve to be crucified. It wasn't a just punishment for his sins.
Jesus is lifted up on the cross for our sins and for our transgressions. And Jesus, when lifted up on the cross, transforms us into a new way of life. Our sufferings and our sins can no longer be seen as divine punishment or divine abandonment.
Jesus, in being lifted up, is not just put to death. Jesus is also glorified by God the Father. In this way we find redemption and forgiveness for our sins.
When we look at the cross we see our own salvation. When we look at the cross we see the resurrection, a new life; we see beyond our sins, our faults and our failings.
So in these last days of Lent, we lift up the cross to see glory, to see redemption, to see salvation, to see forgiveness.
In these last days of Lent, we lift up the bread to see the very body of our Lord Jesus given to us that we might be fed and nourished and strengthen.
In these last days of Lent, we lift up the wine poured out as blood, blood that gives life to the world.
This is the Paschal mystery that is unfolding before us in the coming weeks. We will see the Lord lifted up on the cross. But seeing Jesus is not necessarily believing.
Remember, there were those who saw Jesus on the cross because they wanted him to die. We see Jesus because we want him to rise to new life.
Our Lenten journey must bring this to a place where we see Jesus. And in seeing Jesus lifted up, we must make a decision not just to see, but also to believe.