'We Would Like to See Jesus' by Rev. Jack Peterson
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
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John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you , unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.
"I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered and said, "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." He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.
Some Greeks arrived in Jerusalem for the Passover to render worship to God. They approached Philip and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus."
The simple request in this short anecdote reflects a universal sentiment in the heart of every human being. We want to see God. We want to be in his presence. At the very least, we want to meet someone who is very close to God. But in truth, we want to see God, and we want to get a sense that He knows us and that we are important to Him. And so, like the searching Greeks, we make the request: "Sir, we would like to see Jesus."
Jesus takes this opportunity to bring his disciples to a new, deeper place of faith. He knows that many have been interested in Him because He fed them, walked on water, calmed the seas, cured the sick, and clearly cared with a compassion and love like no one else they had ever encountered. The crowds saw Him as someone who at least was very close to God. He wanted to teach them who He really was and what his mission was about.
So He taught them: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." Jesus came to bear much fruit. He did not come to make people a little nicer, make life a little more comfortable or offer people an alternative lifestyle. Jesus came to redeem the world from sin, restore human beings to a proper relationship with their Heavenly Father and open up the gates of heaven for all who come to know and love him.
Jesus explained his method by pointing to the path of a grain of wheat. He was going to die, be placed in the ground and rise again on the third day as the first fruits of all who would come to believe in Him. This path to redeeming the world was very hard for his disciples to understand, much less accept. It was a path filled with unfathomable suffering and which culminated in a total surrender of his life to God the Father by asphyxiation on a cross between two thieves.
The disciples did not want to hear about this path. First of all, they did not want to see Jesus suffer. Furthermore, they did not want that to be their path as well. Surely they remembered the Master telling them: "Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me . . ."
Christ's followers are not much different today. Most of us still do not want to dive seriously into the mystery of Jesus' suffering. I do not want to think of all He endured to save me and bring me his mercy and healing love. Nor do I want to embrace this mystery fully by joining with Him in his suffering by suffering myself. I often want the easy way to joy, peace, happiness and redemption. But such is the cost of our heart's yearning to see Jesus.
Lord, grant your children a grace-filled Lent. May we, through our prayer, fasting, acts of mercy and participation in the liturgical life of the Church come to see the real Jesus. May we see with deep faith and love the One who suffered so profoundly so that we may have life. May we desire to know the love which drove Him to his death. May we be transformed by his merciful love into generous servants who model our lives after Christ and die to ourselves each day in order to aid Christ in his work of bearing much fruit. "Sir, we have come to see Jesus."
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