It is hard to believe that the holy season of Lent is rapidly drawing to a close for us. Next Sunday we will remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, as we celebrate Palm Sunday. As we do begin to think about the end of Lent, I do hope and pray that this Lent has indeed been a time of spiritual renewal and refreshment for you and your families.

In our readings this Sunday, we are invited to reflect on our relationship with God; especially how we might know God or even “see” God. The state of our heart seems to be crucial here. Not, of course, the muscle that pumps blood around the body, but rather the health of our heart in the biblical sense of the word (that is our intentions, our values, our motivations, what makes us tick, etc.)

Our First Reading (Jeremiah 31:31-34) contains a crucial prophecy and promise about our heart. God will indeed give us a new heart, writing his Law of Love in our very hearts. The psalm (Psalm 51) reminds us that to encounter God in a real way, we need a pure or a clean heart. This is pretty much impossible, but, fortunately, God can create this heart within us! A surefire way to encounter God is to align our will with God; that is to obey.

In the Gospel (John 12:20-33), we come across a very human situation. A group (the Greeks) asked Jesus’ disciples a question. It is a question that perhaps many of us have thought of, or perhaps even asked: we would like to see Jesus. Have you ever thought how much easier faith would be if we had Jesus standing right in front of us; that is if he was actually physically present right before our eyes. Then we could not only see him, but also fire all our questions and our prayers directly at him. It would be great! 

As we hear in the Gospel, two of the disciples, Andrew and Philip, go to Jesus and relay the request of those who want to see Jesus. The reply of Jesus may seem strange, or at least disconnected with the request. Surely Jesus would have just said yes or no. Instead, he seems to give a rather mysterious answer; talking about how the time has come for him to be glorified and giving the image of a grain of wheat dying in order to yield a harvest. We can imagine Andrew and Philip scratching their heads, looking at each other in a puzzled way and then saying one of those rather uncertain and hesitant “okays” that is just as much a question as an affirmation!

Yet, our Lord’s answer is so important, especially as we get closer to Holy Week and Easter. We should not forget that the incident related to us in the Gospel this Sunday is just before the great events that we will remember from Palm Sunday onwards. People will indeed see Jesus; but not as they may think or even wish. They will see him suffering and then crucified; but then they will see him risen and glorified. When people see all this, some will run away, others will mock, others will feel sorry for Jesus. Yet then others will come to faith and belief: they will really see Jesus, not only with their eyes, but with the eyes of faith. Why can they do this? Because of the state of their heart. 

What about us? Well, we do see Jesus in many ways, especially when we too look with the eyes of faith, or with a sound spiritual heart. How so? We see Jesus when we hear the Scriptures and take their message to heart! We see Jesus when we pray and place ourselves (our heart) in his hands. We see Jesus when we celebrate the Eucharist and receive the Body and Blood of Christ that renews our hearts. We see Jesus when we encounter him in the sacrament of confession/reconciliation and receive a newness of heart in absolution. We see Jesus in our brothers and sisters, especially those in need as they touch and soften our hearts. Remember the words in Matthew, Chapter 25: “Lord, when did we see you?” and Jesus’ reply: “when you did it to the least of these, you did it to me.”

Every day we hear many things and see many things. Let us keep an eye open for the many, many times that we will see and encounter Jesus. As we will soon begin Holy Week, let us keep a special eye open to seeing the Lord and all that he has undergone for us. And … let us be of good and pure heart.