Sunday, 29 March 2009
Lent 5 Losing your life to gain it
John's Gospel was written some time after Jesus died. It is centred around a number of signs and miracles attached to "I am " statements-I am the good shepherd, I am the bread of life and so on. Jesus in John 12 v20-36 is approached through Philip by some Godfearing Greeks, who want to see Jesus much as people would ask an aide to see Madonna or President Obama, to interview him! They are on pilgimage, a habit lost by most of us in our secular society but practised by Muslims and others as a way of increasing their faith. The Canterbury Tales is a description of such a pilgimage in medieval times and today people pilgrimage to Iona, to Walsingham, to Jerusalem and Rome (as Gerry Hughes SJ describes in his books). Jesus knows that these Greeks signify a turning point, a sign of the end stage of his time on earth, the beginning of his journey to the cross and resurrection. Even the non-Jews the Gentiles are following him! The crowd and the disciples misunderstand what he must do, his calling. They are expecting a saviour who will live with them forever. Interestingly Jesus turns away from the Greeks and their demand. Instead he talks about glorifying God (a theme in John's gospel) and harks back to Daniel's image of the Son of Man. Seeds only are produced by a dead plant and so it is that this plant must die to produce Gods seed, an eco God! We all know what it means to lose your soul (Jung calls it Psyche), to be distracted by what is not really important and to die within. Our real self, not the one we present to the world is fed, but our soul is dying. Jesus encourages the crowd to take up their cross like dissidents and carry it and if necessary to be die for what is really important. This is not a religion for the faint hearted and some turn away. Its too much to ask. Jesus is troubled as he sees what is before him..What can I say to you...save me from this hour? But he accepts the cup of suffering...Like Moses lifted the serpent up on the stick for the healing of the Israelites (still used today as a symbol of medicine) so Jesus will be lifted up for the healing of the world. The time is urgent. Life is fragile and can be taken from us in a second. Put your trust in the light you can see rather than stumbling in the dark!