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Tuesday of Holy Week, April 4, 2023

Tuesday of Holy Week

April 04, 2023

John 12:20-36

We have heard several times of Jesus’ encounters with non-Jews: the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn 4:7+); the exorcism of the demoniac (Mk 5:1-20); the anointing of Jesus’ feet by the Syrophoenician woman (Mk 7:25-28); and the healing of the centurion’s servant (Mt 8:5-13) among them. In each of those, Jesus either chose to reveal himself or was asked for healing. Each of those encounters involved someone with a need.

But Jesus had told his disciples “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” (Jn 10:16)

The difference with the Greeks who approached Philip was that they simply expressed a desire to see/meet Jesus. We must assume they already knew who and what he was and that they were anxious just to be in his presence and to confirm what they already knew of him.

For Jesus’ part, the significance was that these men did not come in need of healing, but out of curiosity and for confirmation – sort of like the “wise men” who needed to confirm that what they had seen in their vision was indeed true. (Mt 2:1-2)

Jesus knew (and had said) that he was not in the world just for salvation of the Jews, but for all mankind. Thus, when Jesus heard that the Greeks wished to see him, he knew that his purpose would soon be fulfilled. They represented the “other sheep.”

Fascinating as that thought might have been, suddenly the reality of what lay ahead was imminent. It’s hard for us to comprehend Jesus’ dual nature: as the divine, he knew what his future held, but as one also fully human, he knew that he faced an agonizing and humiliating death.

Each of us has probably faced a situation where the thing we ought to do was very unpleasant and we were tempted to slough it off and walk away. If the situation was one of moral turpitude, did we face it – or did we walk away? In my life, I have done both. Through the Grace of God, I have recovered from the times of walking away and have ultimately accepted forgiveness.

I have also faced painful challenges and experienced the satisfaction of doing the “right thing.” Suffering to the point of death, however, was not one of my challenges.

What does all of this mean to me? I am not descended from Jews, so perhaps I am of the “other sheep” and I should listen to Jesus’ voice. I can take comfort in knowing that I, my family, and all my friends whom I love are sheep of Jesus’ fold. He came to earth to gather all of us and save us from our sins. We know that he could have said, “Father save me from this hour.” But he did not; rather, he considered his calling and submitted.

May we all give thanks for his sacrifice and use his example to strengthen us in times of challenge.

Chuck Moore