Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Fifth Sunday of Lent

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John 12.20-30

"When I am lifted up …"

"When I am lifted up … I shall draw all men to myself" says Jesus, indicating the kind of death he would die. “Now my soul is troubled”, he says and questions himself: “shall I say: Father, save me from this hour?” and his response is absolute: “But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour”. And so it came to pass that he was lifted up on a cross to die a horrible and shameful death. And yet, that very moment when he seemed to have lost everything was the moment of greatest significance. He was lifted up on a cross to die and ever since has continued to draw people to himself from everywhere. He has made a lasting impression on them that has changed their whole life.

How? Supremely by a message that he not only preached but lived. His entire life was given to proclaiming that everyone is loved unconditionally by God, and that what God asks in return is our love for him and for each other. Jesus lived that love totally, selflessly, unhesitatingly. It was precisely his loving way of living that brought about opposition and finally death. The cross is the ultimate sign of his love. When we look at the cross we see an instrument of torture and death transformed into a sign of unmeasured love - love for each one of us.

Jesus was 'lifted up', first by his enemies to death on the cross. But then he was raised up from death by the Father, ‘lifted up’ to a glorious new life of peace and happiness that is to be shared with the whole of mankind. Thus are the challenging words of Jesus “Unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest” first fulfilled in himself and then addressed to all who would be his followers.