Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jesus' Appeal

By José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Eclesalia Informativo
March 21, 2012

John 12: 20-33

Some Greek pilgrims who have come to celebrate the Jewish Passover approach Philip with a request. "We want to see Jesus." It's not curiosity. It's a deep desire to know the mystery within that man of God. It could also be good for them.

Jesus looks worried. In a few days, He is going to be crucified. When the wish of the Greek pilgrims is communicated to Him, He makes a disconcerting pronouncement. "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified." Once He is glorified, everyone will be able to clearly see where His true greatness and His glory lie.

Probably nobody understood anything. But Jesus, thinking about the form of death that awaits Him, stresses, "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." What is hidden in the Crucified One that gives Him this power of attraction? Only one thing: His incredible love for all.

Love is invisible. We can only see it through the actions, signs, and devotion of whoever loves us well. So, in the crucified Jesus, in His life dedicated unto death, we can perceive God's unfathomable love. In fact, we only begin to be Christians when we feel attracted to Jesus. We only begin to understand something about faith when we feel loved by God.

To explain the force contained in His death on the cross, Jesus uses a simple image that we can all understand. "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." If the grain dies, it sprouts and brings forth life, but if it shuts itself up in its little husk and keeps its vital energy to itself, it remains sterile.

This beautiful image unveils a law that mysteriously runs through all of life. It's not a moral standard. It's not a law imposed by religion. It's the dynamic that makes the life of the one who suffers motivated by love, fertile. It's an idea that Jesus repeats on various occasions. Whoever clings selfishly to his life, will lose it; whoever knows how to surrender it generously, will generate more life.

It's not hard to prove it. Whoever lives exclusively for his well-being, his money, his success or security, ends up living a mediocre and sterile life. His passage through this world doesn't make life more humane. Whoever dares to live openly and generously, spreads life, radiates joy, and helps others to live. There isn't a more thrilling way to live than making the lives of others more humane and bearable. How will we be able to follow Jesus if we don't feel attracted to His lifestyle?