Fifth Sunday in Lent
This is the last Sunday in Lent, and next week we will be celebrating Palm Sunday and our Lord’s Passion.
Today we would also like to evoke the figure of St. Patrick, Irish Bishop and Missionary, in recognition of our historical connection to the Irish Community, one of the largest and most significant in Argentina. In the year 431, and over a period of thirty years, Patrick devoted himself tirelessly to announcing Jesus Christ. There are two works attributed to Patrick. His autobiographical Confession tells of his experience of the God’s faithfulness. We will return to this later.
This fifth Sunday in Lent brings us a passage from the gospel of St. John Chap. 12, verses 20 to 33. I would like to reflect on three elements emerging from the reading.
1) John’s gospel omits or tells very differently some of the biblical passages the synoptics highlight. For instance, John’s gospel does not give an account of the last supper, and what the synoptics tell us about the events in Gethsemane is very different in the tradition of this gospel. To some extent the knowledge of these events is presupposed, and John tends to go further in depth into their content. For instance, the last supper is described from a different angle in John Chapter 13, in the passage about the feet-washing. Here, in today’s portion, verse 27 reads: Now my soul is troubled. This verse and the following ones in the scene evoke Gethsemane, but with some variations. Luke tells us that at this time of anguish, Jesús kneels while in Matthew and Mark he falls face down on the ground. In other words, in John’s gospel, Jesus remains on his feet throughout all those crucial final moments of his life. He who is suffering anguish and is to be crucified only moments later, is shown by the evangelist as triumphant, as Lord, the master of his own life and fate. Nobody takes his life – he gives it voluntarily. Jesus announces his glorification through death itself. In John’s gospel passion and glorification are two aspects of the same mystery.2) A second element refers to the voice from Heaven, saying: I have glorified it, and will glorify it again (verse 28). In John’s gospel we do not find the word “miracle; the word he uses is “sign”. This means Jesus’ actions are signs to spark faith and glorify the Father (take a moment to again read the passage about the Wedding Feast at Cana). The sign of glorification above all others is that Christ will be raised on high. Passion and glorification are two aspects of the same mystery.
3) Lastly, the reading we heard says, in verse 32: And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. In this triumphal image of the passion, in this raising on high, drawing all people to himself, God, in Jesus, invites everybody, each person, the entire cosmos, to come to Him. There are no exclusions here, it is God giving himself to each and everyone. His initiative for salvation does not leave us indifferent. God wants to embrace us, embrace our most profound reality, and holds his arms open showing us his redemptive love. Passion and glorification are two aspects of the same mystery.
Finally, I would like to point once again to this vivifying action of God through the passion of his Son in which He reveals his love and faithfulness to each of us by citing St. Patrick, as I mentioned at the beginning, in his Confession. Patrick says: “I give unceasing thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in the day of my testing. Today I can offer him sacrifice with confidence, giving myself as a living victim to Christ, my Lord, who kept me safe through all my trials”.
May God, who reveals his glorification in his passion, keep us in his faithfulness and make us, as he did with Patrick, missionaries of His love and faithfulness that draws all people to Him. Every blessing!
By The Revd. Ariel Irrazábal
Translation: Elizabeth Birks