Today’s Gospel is one of those things that makes you wonder if something got missed when it was translated to English. It starts with a group of Greeks wanting to see Jesus and ends with Jesus not exactly saying whether or not they can. We don’t even know why they wanted to see Jesus. We only know that they came up for the feast and approached the apostle Philip with their request. Perhaps they’ve heard of the miracles Jesus performed or how He preached. Like so many of us when the Pope came to visit, the Greeks, like us, wanted to see the man.
We may have to wait until next week to find out if they ever did get to meet Jesus but, this week, we are only left with Jesus’ words about His coming passion and death. One might even think Jesus was talking more to Himself rather than answering Philip and Andrew. He speaks of the need to die, debating whether or not He should ask God to save Him, then, finally, of glorifying the Father; and the Father acknowledges Him. Perhaps that is why some thought it was just thunder because it seemed as if He was just talking to Himself. Nobody really expected an answer.
Once you’ve gone over the initial shock though of having to say “wait; what?”, you get to reflect on what Jesus said and then one realizes He was answering Philip and Andrew: if the Greeks wanted to see Jesus, they only have to go where He was when He is sacrificed for their sake: “and when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” The challenge, however, is when you see Him raised from the earth, crucified for all to see, what are you going to do? Jesus is troubled, and with good reason. First, He knows He’s going to die a horrible death. That can’t be easy. Even if it’s still a week or two away, knowing that it will come to pass would be very hard to accept.
Second, once it is done, will it be worth it? Will anyone, free as they are to choose for themselves where to go or what to do, continue to follow Him? Can we?
Most of us where born Catholics, go to mass and generally observe Catholic practices regardless of whether or not it has meaning for us. Jesus is asking us to follow Him to the cross and beyond. Will we?
We are those Greeks seeking Jesus. Jesus’ challenge is true today as it was all those years ago. Many walked away from Jesus when they saw Him crucified. We Catholics must stand firm even if doing so goes against logic or practicality. We cannot cherry pick. If you want to see Jesus, then you have to see Him for all He is and be all that He is. If this is another “wait, what” moment for you, then you better think fast. If you are Catholic, then you have to stand fast. We have to go where He is.