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“Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” This request was made to Philip by “Some Greeks” at the beginning of this Sunday’s Gospel. After learning of their request Jesus didn’t respond directly. Instead he said: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” He then went on to talk about the hour which was coming, and this being the purpose for which he came. He then prayed: “Father, glorify you name.” We are then told that a voice came from heaven saying: “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” Jesus then told the people: “This voice did not come for my sake, but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself”
Now given the above, this Gospel would seem to be a bit disjointed, without a logical progression of thought. The thread that ties this passage together, though, is found in the question posed by the Greeks: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Often times in the scriptures, people want to “see” Jesus. They are comfortable seeing him from a distance. Jesus, though, is clear he doesn’t want people to stay at a distance from him. He wants them to follow him. And if they chose to follow him, he also wants them to come to know him. Jesus is also clear, though, that knowing him won’t guarantee a life of ease, or a life free of difficulties or trials. Rather his followers are to give up their way, and follow his way. In this regard, in our Gospel today Jesus is clear; “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah. In it God tells the people that because their forbearers broke the old covenant, He will make a “new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.” The terms of the covenant are stated clearly. “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
In our second reading this Sunday the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds the people that Jesus, “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.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion:
1. The request of the Greeks: “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” suggests to me that often we want to stay at a distance from Jesus. As a friend of mine puts it: “at times we more admire than strive to imitate Jesus.” Do you agree or disagree?
2. In the first reading God told the people of Israel that He was making a new covenant with them. What does the word “covenant” mean to you?
3. What does it mean for you to “obey” Jesus?