We are just one week away from the b e g i n n i n g o f t h e Ho l y We e k a n d today’s Second Reading and Gospel passage already introduces us to the basic truth that our salvation is the fruit of the dramatic death of Jesus Christ. It was through his sacrificial death that the life-giving New Covenant was sealed. Life from death is also the challenge addressed to each of us. If we want the life of grace to grow within us, we must be prepared to die to our pride and any other form of negative passions. It is only when we die to our lower selves that we can start living unto the Lord. Then we are active partners in the New Covenant.
Let us offer this Eucharist for this intention even as we continue praying for peace and justice in the world.
Historical Background: Jesus had recently called back from death his friend Lazarus- an extraordinary miracle which had filled the Jewish authorities with irrational fear and had brought them to plan the elimination of the disturbing miracle worker (See Jn 11:46-53) Aware of their murderous plans, Jesus withdrew for some time to Ephraim, a town some twenty miles north of Jerusalem. But as the Passover feast draw near, he took the dramatic decision to go up to Jerusalem in spite of the threats to his life. He actually entered the City in a triumphant manner- something which was bound to further antagonize the authorities…
Introduction: The episode presented in today’s passage took place shortly after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, just a few days before the Passover festival. He sees in the request of the Greeks a sign that his “hour” has come. Troubled in his human sensitivity at the awareness of the sufferings which this “hour” will entail, Jesus nonetheless restates his readiness to do the will of the Father, no matter what the cost.
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.
Historical Background: The long exile in Babylon, coupled with the remembrance of the devastation which had preceded it, had brought the morale of the Israelites to an all-time low. But the Lord did not intend to keep them in exile forever. Through prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah, He injected in them hope for a better future which they would enjoy in their homeland as members of a forgiven, purified and renewed nation.
Introduction: Today’s passage is the famous oracle of God’s “new covenant” with the reunited kingdoms of Israel and Judah. It belongs to the “Book of Consolation” (Jer chaps. 30-31), and describes the features of this “better covenant.” The passage is intended to instill hope in the dispirited exiles. It assures them that the Lord has not forgetten them, and actually has a plan of forgiveness and renewal in his people.
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers
the day I took them by the hand
to lead them forth from the land of Egypt;
for they broke my covenant,
and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD.
But this is the covenant that I will make
with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.
I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives
how to know the LORD.
All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD,
for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.
Historical Background: In his effort to enlighten a group of converts from Judaism who were about to backslide into their previous religious allegiance, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews states forcefully that Jesus “the High Priest of the faith we proess” is more important than Moses himself. (See Heb 3:1) After having warned his audience not to turn away from the living God (3:12), lest they be deprived of God’s blessings like what happened to the Israelites of old because of their unbelief (see the remaining part of chap 4), the author passes to describe the exceptional features of Jesus’ priesthood.
Introduction: In these three verses the author describes in a very concise manner how Jesus Christ exercised his priesthood through prayer and suffering in obedience to the plan of the Father. This makes him the perfect priest and the source of salvation for all humandkind.
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
•New Covenant: The promise of a “new covenant” between God and His people is found in the book of Jeremiah, and is very important. The emphasis is on its “newness” and difference from the preceding one. This promise was realized in the person of Jesus Christ, was sealed with his blood, and is offered to all mankind. It is made effective by the Holy Spirit, and is continually renewed in the Eucharist.
• Greeks: Literally, this word means inhabitants of Greece, a nation of southern Europe. But here it means converts from
paganism to Judaism who spoke Greek, the “lingua franca” of those days. They worshipped the Lord though they did not belong to the
Jewish race. • Hour: In the Gospel of St. John the word “hour” stands for the most important part in the life and mission of Jesus,
particularly the series of tragic events which culminated in his redeeming death.
• The Father: This is the title frequently used by Jesus to speak of God. It reveals the unique relationship that binds him to God, who is his father in a proper and exclusive manner. We are “adopted” children of the Father,” thanks to our union with Jesus, our “kuya.”
• Lifted up: This expression indicates primarily Jesus’ crucifixion. But some commentators also see in this a reference to his resurrection/ascension .