(CNS photo/Vatican Media)

March 21, 2021

On the Fifth Sunday of Lent Pope Francis recalled the Gospel reading where some Greeks approach the apostle Philip asking to see Jesus. He said their request reflects symbolically one asked by men and women down through the ages wishing to know Jesus.

By Vatican News staff writer

Addressing the faithful via a live broadcast from the library of the Apostolic Palace due to a new pandemic lockdown in Italy, Pope Francis recalled the great responsibility Christians and our communities have in helping people to meet and know Jesus.

The day’s Gospel reading recounts how Jesus responds to the request of the Greeks by saying “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:23-24). The Pope said this answer shows that Jesus is “the hidden seed ready to die in order to bear much fruit” and in order to know and understand Him you look at the cross.

The Cross, symbol par excellence of Christians

The sign of the Cross over the centuries, the Pope said “has become the symbol par excellence of Christians”, and the Crucifix is often where people “see Jesus”,  especially those from places where Christianity is not well-known where it is the sign they encounter and come to recognize. They see them in churches, the homes of Christians or worn by believers. The important thing, the Pope says, is that “the sign be consistent with the Gospel: the cross cannot but express love, service, unreserved self-giving” to be truly the “tree of life”.

Getting to know Jesus

Often times people today wish to know more about Jesus, implicitly wanting to “see Jesus”, and Pope Francis says Christians “must respond with the witness of a life that is given in service”. We are called to sow seeds of love through concrete, simple, and courageous gestures, not just words, the Pope said. The Lord with his grace “makes us bear fruit” even where misunderstandings, difficulty, or persecution exist. During these trials while the seed is dying is when “life blossoms, to bear ripe fruit in due time”, he noted, since death and life intertwine and we can “experience the joy and true fruitfulness of love, which always, I repeat, is given in God’s style: closeness, compassion, tenderness”.

The Pope prayed that the Virgin Mary might help us all follow Jesus on this journey of service so that “the love of Christ may shine” and all can see and know Him.

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