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MARCH 17, 2024 FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Second Reading: Hebrews 5:7-9
Gospel: John 12:20-33

Our Gospel for today contains one of the most beautiful and terrible summations of the Christian message: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

Now this one upon whom the crowds had pinned their hopes is speaking of falling to the earth and dying. And then it gets stranger. “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for life eternal.”

Just when we are raising you up, you’re talking about falling down; just when we are showing you that your life has come to its fulfillment, you’re talking about hating this life.

To understand what all this means, we should go back to the grain of wheat that falls to the earth. A seed’s life is inside, yes, but it’s a life that grows by being given away and mixing with the soil around it. It has to crack open, to be destroyed

Jesus’ sign is the sign of the cross—the death that leads to transfiguration
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