5 Lent – Year B

Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-13 (or Psalm 119:9-16); Hebrews 5:5-10; John 12:20-33

“Suffering is always followed by salvation.” – Desmond Tutu

                Moments after giving birth, the new mother takes the freshly cleaned baby into her loving arms with smiles and such joy.  If she had not heard from the wealth of common knowledge that this is how it works, how would she have known?  When her body was so full of pain, how could she have guessed, imagined or dreamed she could be so full of joy?  When Desmond Tutu and the others in South Africa were in such life threatening pain, how could they have ever guessed, imagined or dreamed that there could be such joyful dancing in the streets of Cape Town and Pretoria.  Suffering is the paradoxical door to joy, happiness and even salvation.  That’s just how it works.  It is what Jesus meant when he said the grain of wheat must die if it will ever bear much fruit (John 12:24).  It is what Jesus meant when he said to save one’s life we have to lose it (John 12:25).  But try to tell that to the person in the midst of suffering.  Try to tell that to the mother whose baby died during child birth.  Try to tell that to the unemployed people who are now homeless with their children.  Try to tell that to a spouse, significant other or parents as they watch two uniformed soldiers march up their walk with news from Afghanistan. We so struggle with life’s snares and hazards.  Even Jesus prayed that he might be spared from his inevitable hour; his soul was troubled (John 12:27).  But perhaps we might be able to see how life works in the eyes of the dying Indian in Mother Teresa’s death ward in Calcutta as one of her nuns or volunteers lovingly bathes the dying person, and their eyes catch and they know.  They finally know that’s just how it works.  They know salvation even in death.  Jesus calls for us to be where he is (John 12:26).  Good God!  Who wants to follow Jesus through the gates of hell?  We all want to be pampered in padded pews.  But, whether we believe in Jesus or not, life doesn’t work that way.  But fear not.  The birthing mother has heard from her mother that joy comes.  So have we.


                Not much of significant note in the Greek of this Gospel passage.  It is pretty straight forward.  The Greek of John’s Gospel and the three letters of John are the easiest Greek of the New Testament, a good place for a beginner to start.


Pain so hurt deep down.

Yet be where Jesus now is.

Dreamed joy us awaits.