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Homily – Fifth Sunday of Lent

This Lent we have been sharing the homilies from various priests within our Diocese. This week we hear from Fr Edwin Calaco SBD.

Unless a Grain of Wheat Dies

Many people see death as an interruption in their life and mission. But Jesus saw death as a fulfilment of his life and mission. Many times in the past the people had planned to entrap him but Jesus always escaped from their hands because “his hour had not yet come” (John 7:30; 8:20). But now his hour has come. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…. And what should I say — ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour” (John 12:23, 27). Jesus uses the parable of the grain of wheat to explain that by shying away from death when the hour has come one only reduces one’s life and mission (“remains just a single grain”) whereas by giving oneself up to death when the hour has come one enhances it (“bears much fruit”). In this way Jesus flatly refuses to seek any help, human or divine, to prolong his earthly life beyond his Father’s will. The voice from heaven confirms that this decision is indeed God’s will and that for Jesus, the faithful servant of God, death and glory are indeed two sides of the same coin.

This must have been a powerful story of encouragement in the faith for the persecuted early Christians to whom John wrote. It shows that it is only through Jesus’ submission to an undeserved death that they now have the benefit of faith and salvation. But then it goes on to remind them of the words of Jesus that his followers must follow in his steps even unto death. “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also.” (John 12:25-26). Where is Jesus? Jesus is in glory. But to get there he had to pass through the gates of death in faithfulness to God’s will.

That is his story. That also should be our story.