“Sir, we should like to see Jesus.”
Jesus’ response to Andrew and Philip, in regard to the Greeks’ request to see him, at first seems strange. He did not say, “Sure, send them right in,” or “I’m busy now. Schedule them for next Tuesday.” No. He talks about wheat falling to the earth and dying, about hating life in this world, and about serving and following him. I am sure Andrew and Philip must have scratched their heads in puzzlement and then said, “Yeah, but will you see these Greeks?” Jesus, I imagine, responded, “That wasn’t what they requested, for me to see them. They requested to see me.” “O.K…, but do you have to be so technical Jesus? So they want to see you. Will you let them come in to our camp to see you or not?” “I already answered that.” Andrew and Philip still didn’t get it. Jesus was trying to teach them that there are different ways of seeing. We can see with our natural eyes, looking upon the outward appearance. “So that’s what this miracle working Jew looks like. Not much to write home about.” We can see with our ego eyes. “Guess what everybody. We saw Jesus of Nazareth. We were right there beside him!” Or we can see in the way that Jesus prescribed, a spiritual seeing that comes only to those who surrender all desire for fleshly pleasure or worldly prestige. A seeing that comes only to those with the courage to risk it all on the single cause of being like and doing like Jesus.
It would seem, from this Gospel passage, that there are also varying degrees of hearing. When a voice came from the sky, some just heard it as thunder. They had only natural ears. Others attributed it as angels with a message for someone else, for Jesus. Their ego ears protected them from hearing anything that would threaten their personal comfort and security. A few, with ears attuned to things spiritual, recognized the voice of their Father with a message, not for Jesus, not for anyone else, but for them personally.
Jesus sought to counsel his disciples and the Greeks that they needed eyes and ears of a new dimension. Eyes and ears that would be suitable for a life eternal. Central to this seeing and hearing, Jesus said, is the cross. It is as we look to Jesus upon the cross that we are drawn to be one with him. It is as we hear the message of the cross that truth becomes ours. It is as we embrace the cross for ourselves that we find life.
Fifth Sunday of Lent Jer 31: 31-34, Heb 5: 7-9, Jn 12: 20-33
Peace Connections: Making the connection between the Sunday Readings and issues of peace and justice. Copyright 1995, by Thomas L. Garlitz. “Not for profit” permission to reprint granted.