In meditating on this Gospel passage I was deeply moved to ponder anew the profound gift of being invited into Divine relationship by Baptism.
The worst atrocity in history takes form in this passage. The plotting in the human heart gains ground for the destruction of Pure Goodness, Truth and Beauty to assuage the human appetite for power, control and greed. In the midst of knowing the trajectory he was on, Jesus never wavered from the Divine relationship and the mission for which he was sent. Jesus was single-minded in relationship with the Father, submitting to the inevitable course of action, unfolding.
Jesus knew the authorities were closing in on him. His prior raising Lazarus from the dead had attracted many Jews, and even the Greeks were seeking after him, John tells the reader. This constituted to the Pharisees in John 12:19 that the ‘whole world’ was coming after Jesus. The authorities were losing control and Jesus must be eliminated, along with any enduring followership.
To make sure Jesus did not continue to be glorified as a martyr if murdered under Jewish custom, it was being plotted to hand him over to the Romans to suffer the ignominious death of crucifixion. Under Mosaic Law, those who are ‘hanged on a tree are cursed by God’ (Deuteronomy 21:23). Crucifixions were very public and frequent events for victims to die in shame. Jesus would have known exactly what was ahead for him. His pure fear is expressed, “Now my soul is in distress” (v27). However, Jesus drew comfort and strength from the Father, ever mindful of his mission, ‘What shall I say? Father save me from this hour? No, I have come to this hour to face all this.’ (v27)
Jesus likening himself to a grain of wheat in that his impending death was a means to life and the birth of a new community. Pure Goodness, Truth and Beauty can never be destroyed. The apparent failure of Jesus’ life in human terms was in fact triumph over the whole world.
The whole world is invited into the Divine relationship with the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit. Lent offers a special time for us to embrace this invitation and deeply ponder anew the profound gift of our being called into the Divine relationship through baptism, to listen to God’s voice speaking in our world and to follow Jesus and live God’s mission with a single mind and heart, no matter what life presents.