I want to begin by checking if you have ever found yourself in this situation: You are on a bus or train. You are minding your business, maybe reading a book. Then, the couple sitting next to you begins an interesting conversation; it sounds like gossip. Each sentence opens a new layer. The couple keeps digging into the gist. Even though you are looking into your opened book, the couple already grabbed your full attention; holding you spellbound. Many questions come up in your mind, and you really want to know how the story will end. You cannot believe where this story is heading. And just as they are about to enter the main part of the story, they get off the bus while you continue to a few more stops ahead. For the rest of the day, you keep replaying the story in your head, wondering how it ended, maybe blaming yourself for not getting off at the same bus stop with the couple. If you have ever had such an experience, you will know how I feel about today’s Gospel passage.

The Gospel passage begins by saying, “Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip … and asked him, ‘Sir, we would like to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.” Those introductory words caught my attention; they piqued my curiosity and engendered many questions. It is out of character to hear of the Greeks coming to Jesus. It is common to hear of the Pharisees, the Scribes, the Crowds, the Sadducees, the Jews, the Apostles, or the Disciples talking with Jesus, never the Greeks. So, what are the Greeks doing here? Why do they want to see Jesus? Are they for Jesus, or are they against Jesus? What did they tell Jesus? I really want to know.

Unfortunately, this Gospel passage does not tell us what the Greeks said to Jesus. However, Fulton Sheen suggests that we can tell what they said to Jesus by studying the response Jesus gave them. According to the Gospel passage, “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 fruit.”

There were twelve apostles, but the Greeks chose to speak to the two with Greek names, Philip and Andrew. Even though they were Jews, by bearing Greek names, they must have been more open and welcoming to people of Greek culture. When the Greeks got to Jesus, maybe they already heard the rumor that some people were planning to kill Jesus. They likely suggested that he follow them to Athens, where he would be safe because the Greeks had learned their lesson. Before Jesus, Socrates was a great Greek philosopher. But the Greeks, who could not face the truth in the teachings of Socrates, murdered him; an act for which they regret till date. It was in response that Jesus had to clarify his mission to them. Jesus was not an ordinary philosopher; he came as a savior and identified that particular hour as the hour for him to be glorified through his death.

Jesus revealed that his purpose for coming was to lay down his life for his sheep. Since he was talking to Greeks, who were philosophers, he used an analogy from nature. They wanted him to come to Athens and spare his life. So he said, like a seed, he would yield no fruit by remaining alive, but by dying, he would germinate and produce abundant fruits. His death gave birth to the sacrament of all sacraments. His death became the source of our salvation.

This season of Lent invites Christians to examine which seed in our lives needs to die to bear fruit. What noble thing must we let go of to attain something nobler? What is that relationship, comfort zone, leisure, habit, etc., we must let die to yield fruit?

Letting go is never an easy thing. After Jesus confidently told the Greeks that it was his hour to let go, the hour for him as a seed to die and be buried, he confessed, “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.” It was not an easy decision for Jesus. Letting go is never easy. If you find it easy, then you are not doing it in the right way. Instead of asking God to save him from this hour, he instead prayed that God’s name might be glorified, and God did just that, and even more, he glorified Jesus.

May the Holy Spirit enlighten us to know which seed we must let go of to the glory of God, the shame of the Kingdom of darkness, and for our salvation through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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