Readings and Reflections March 18, 2018 – Year B Fifth Sunday of Lent

Reading 1 JER 31:31-34

The days are coming, says the LORD,
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.

Responsorial Psalm PS 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15.

R. (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.

R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.

R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.

R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Reading 2 HEB 5:7-9

In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh,
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.

Verse Before The Gospel JN 12:26

Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord;
and where I am, there also will my servant be.

Gospel JN 12:20-33

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast
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.



Die and Live Fifth Sunday of Lent

March 18, 2018

John 12:20-33

 “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. (Jn. 12:24)”

The hour of Jesus’ suffering and death has come. Jesus knows well that Jewish leaders want him dead, and there is no other punishment worse than crucifixion. Yet, Jesus does not see His suffering and death as defeat and shame, but in fact, it is the opposite. His crucifixion shall be the hour that He will be glorified and draw all men and women to Himself. It is the moment of victory because Jesus sees Himself as a grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, and then bears many fruits. It is not a kind of positive thinking technique to vilify the suffering or a pep talk to ignore the pain, but rather Jesus chooses to embrace it fully and make it meaningful and fruitful.

In the theological level, Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection are the summits of the work of redemption, our salvation. Jesus is the resurrection and life so that whoever knows and believes in Him may have the eternal life. Jesus’ choice of a grain of wheat, a basic material for making bread, may allude to the sacrament of the Eucharist through which Jesus gives the fullness of Himself to us in the form of a bread.

Thus, through our participation in the Eucharist, we share this fruit of salvation. However, through His sacrifice and death, Jesus also offers us a radical way to live this life. Truly, there is nothing wrong in pursuing wealth, success and power because these are also gifts from God and necessary for our survival and growth. Yet, when we are too captivated by these alluring things, and make other things and people simply tools to gain these, we choose to live the way of the world.

Since the dawn of humanity, the world has offered us an inward-looking and self-seeking way of life. It is “Me First,” my success, my happiness at the expense of others and nature.

Some people exploit nature and steal other people’s hard-earned money to enrich themselves.

Some objectify and abuse even their family members, people under their care, just to have an instant pleasure.

Some others manipulate their co-workers or friends to have more power for themselves.

These are precisely what the world offers. These are good as far as they fulfill our transitory needs as a human being, but when we make them as the be-all and end-all, we begin losing our lives.

Science calls this effect the hedonic treadmill: We work hard, advance, so we can afford more and nicer things, and yet this doesn’t make us any happier. We fail to find what truly makes us human and alive, and despite breathing, we already dying.

As Jesus says, “Whoever loves his life, loses it (Jn 12:25).” Paradoxically, it is in dying to ourselves and in giving ourselves, our lives to others that we may find life and bear fruits. Sometimes, we need to offer our lives literally.

St. Maximillian Kolbe offered his life in exchange for a young man who had children in the death camp Auschwitz. Later Pope John Paul II canonized him and declared him as a martyr of charity. Not all of us are called to make the ultimate sacrifice like St. Maximillian, and we can die to ourselves in our little things, and give ourselves for others in simple ways.

The questions then for us: how are we going to die to ourselves?

How shall we give ourselves to others?

What makes our lives fruitful for ourselves and others?

Br. Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP
Photo by Harry Setianto SJ
Mar. 18:


D Law of Productivity demands dying 2 & emptying d self & self-righteousness 2 b filled by Jesus 4 servis & giving. Die 2 liv. Giv 2 risiv. Lose 2 gain.
Fr. Ramon T. Salibay, O.P.

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