Jesus' Hour of Glory - God's thinking vs. our thinking

Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Lent Year B

by Fr. Tommy Lane

Who are the important people in our world? Who are the great people in our country? It depends on what you mean by ‘important.’ These are some of the people in our world who receive glory and renown and fame and publicity: - pop stars, sport stars, successful business people, company directors, billionaires. Are they the really important people in our world? There are other people who are not famous; they are people caring for sick relatives, people suffering crosses without grumbling, those giving encouragement to others, those who bring the love of God to others, those who witness to Jesus in small ways. Are they the really great people in our world? I think they are. Think of a pop song or a great goal scored during a championship or a successful business deal. It will not last into eternity. Think of an act of kindness to someone who is ill; that will last into eternity. Even if there is a truckload of flowers at a funeral, they will wither, they will not last. But if you say even just one Hail Mary for the deceased, even though you will never see it, that Hail Mary will last into eternity.

What about Jesus? At the wedding in Cana Jesus said his hour had not yet come but in today’s Gospel he says his hour has come,

“Now the hour has come
for the Son of Man to be glorified.” (John 12:23)

What is this hour of glory for Jesus? It is his passion and death! That is the hour of glory for Jesus in John’s Gospel, his passion and death! Why? Because if a grain falls on the ground and dies it yields a rich harvest (John 12:24). The hour of glory for Jesus is his passion and death because when he is lifted up from from the earth he will draw all men to himself (John 12:32). Jesus’ glory is not what the world thinks glorious because the world does not see as God sees. Who would have thought that Jesus, son of the Father, the Messiah, would have to suffer? Yet that is precisely how he was “perfected” as the second reading reminds us today:

Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering; but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation. (Heb 5:8-9)

Through Isaiah God says,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts
and your ways are not my ways,
declares Yahweh.
For the heavens are as high above earth
as my ways are above your ways,
my thoughts above your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8-9)

In Psalm 147:10 we read,

“God’s delight is not in horses
nor his pleasure in warrior’s strength.
The Lord delights in those who revere him,
in those who wait for his love.”

Sometimes we give the glory to what is strong and powerful, but God delights in those who revere him and wait for his love. In one of the accounts of the call of David (1 Sam 16) God said to Samuel to go to Jesse of Bethlehem and anoint one of his sons as king of Israel. When Samuel saw Eliab, Samuel thought this must be the one but God said to Samuel,

“Take no notice of his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him; God does not see as humans beings see; they look at appearances but Yahweh looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)

When Samuel saw Abinadab God said it was not he, when Samuel saw Shamah God said it was not he. When Jesse had shown all his sons to Samuel, Samuel had to ask Jesse if he had any more sons because he knew none of these was the one God had chosen. Oh yes, there was one more, the youngest looking after the sheep, David. David’s own father, Jesse, had forgotten about him, but that forgotten son David was the one God asked Samuel to anoint. God does not look at appearances, God looks at the heart. Do we give glory to what appears great or do we give glory to what is great?

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote, “God chose those who by human standards are fools to shame the wise; he chose those who by human standards are weak to shame the strong…” (1 Cor 1:27) Do we hold successful people up on high while God delights in those who do his will? In Matt 6:33 Jesus says, “Seek the kingdom of God first.” Some in the world look down on those who stay at home to rear their families but the greatest work any mother could do is to rear her family. Pope John Paul II has said mothers who stay at home to rear their families should be given an income.

Who does Jesus consider to be great? He says,

“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.
Anyone who loves his life loses it;
Anyone who hates his life in this world
Will keep it for the eternal life.” (John 12:24-25)

Who are the really great people in our world? Who are the really great people in our country? In Psalm 147:10 we read,

“God’s delight is not in horses
nor his pleasure in warrior’s strength.
The Lord delights in those who revere him,
in those who wait for his love.”

What is the hour of glory for Jesus in John’s Gospel? It is his passion and death because through his passion and death he will draw all people to himself. As we continue our journey through Lent and draw near Holy Week, let us ponder on Jesus, the grain of wheat who fell on the ground and died but yielded a rich harvest. As we die to ourselves during Lent through our penance, may we produce a rich harvest and celebrate that harvest during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night.

“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.
Anyone who loves his life loses it;
Anyone who hates his life in this world
Will keep it for the eternal life.” (John 12:24-25)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Fifth Sunday of Lent Year B

Jesus’ Hour of Glory - God’s thinking vs. our thinking

The Sanctifying Grace of the New Covenant is offered to us in superabundance because Jesus died and produced much fruit 2009

First reading related: New Covenant