The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Cycle B)

Today’s readings

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

Bill had worked for the company for twenty-seven years, and he loved his job: it was energizing, he worked with great people, he worked for great people. It was a family business, and they treated the people who worked for them like family. They were paid well, had good benefits, and they all worked hard – it was an ideal situation. But, over the years, the brothers who ran the company retired, and sold the company to another in the same business. They were taken over a few years ago by still another company, so it was hard sometimes to remember who they even worked for. It wasn’t family any more –profits were most important, and the quality of work and product wasn’t so important as was the next big presentation for the stockholders. Everyone was trying to get ahead, and they were cutting corners to do it.

Eventually he became aware that something was really off. What they were billing their biggest clients for, and what they were providing, were two different things. He’d seen the invoices and the sales orders and they didn’t match. And these were government contracts. He checked and re-checked, and there was no getting around it, the disparity was clear. As time went on, he knew he couldn’t live with what was going on. But if he blew the whistle, who was going to have his back? He had a family and needed the job and its benefits. But his faith had informed his conscience and he knew he couldn’t just look the other way.

His hour had come.

Many of us have to face our own “hours.” A teenager says his friends are constantly getting drunk and he does not want to join them. As a result he loses those friends. A parent objects to athletic practices for her children on Sunday morning. As a result, her child does not make the team. Our hour comes whenever our identity is on the line, when we are called on to make sacrifice, when we must make a decision that will cost us. The “hour” often puts our choices at odds with others and we must decide if we will live out and, in a way, die for what we believe.

And so, maybe we can relate a bit to Jesus today. His hour had come, the hour for him to be glorified, sure, but it was also an hour that would lead first to his death. He knew this very well. In John’s Gospel, none of this is a surprise for Jesus – he is not dragged to the cross, there is no Garden of Gethsemane moment where he begs for the cup to be taken from him. Instead, John’s Gospel has Jesus in full control. He knows why he came, he knows that the hour is at hand, and he freely lays down his life for all of us.

We are in the “homestretch” of Lent right now. Maybe this would be a good time to look back on our own “hours” and see how we’ve handled them. Have we stood for what we believe and died a little in the process? Or have we given in to the world and gone with the flow and lost our faith in the process? Chances are we are all somewhere on that journey, and now is a good time for us to return if we’ve gotten off track. Go to confession, maybe during our mission this week, and make plans to live our faith anew. It would be great if we could enter into the glory of Easter, knowing that we have made decisions that make our lives new.

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. We know how he responded and what he gave for us. What are we willing to give for him?