Sorry for failing to send you my weekly “recipes” these past two weeks. Aside from problems with our internet connection and with my busy schedules, I have decided to be silent, and despite my size, to be hidden as I tried collecting myself not only for the holiest week of the year but also for my 53rd birthday on March 22 and 20th year of priesthood on April 18. In my prayers, I have realized that essentially in life, the only thing we really wish for is to see Jesus. All our quest in finding meaning in life, in finding love, in finding our true friends are all parts of our conscious or unconscious efforts to see Jesus.
Some Greeks who had come up to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”(Jn.12:20-21)
These Greeks who wanted to see Jesus were pagans or foreigners referred to as those “who worship or fear God.” Their faith and sympathy for Judaism fell short of full integration into the Jewish people by the rite of circumcision, unlike the “proselytes” who were also pagans in origin. These Greeks would later be the prototype of all other peoples who would later on accept and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But there was something more about those Greeks requesting to see Jesus. There are three Greek words for the verb “to see”: opthalmo, horao, and idein. Opthalmo is simply to see from which came “ophthalmology”, the science of sight. Horao and idein, on the other hand, refer to the deeper meaning of seeing that leads believing or disbelieving, acceptance or rejection. In its original text, St. John used the word “idein” in relating the story of the Greeks’ request to “see Jesus.” Evidently for St. John, this is a story about faith of those Greeks desiring to believe more in Jesus Christ because if they simply wanted to catch a glimpse of the Lord, they could have easily satisfied themselves in seeing Him who had openly entered Jerusalem at that time, freely moving around especially at the Temple area. It must be noted too that the author of this fourth gospel account often referred to himself as the “beloved disciple” – the model disciple who entered the empty tomb on Easter morning who “saw and believed” Jesus is risen (Jn.20:8).
In this age of Instagram and Facebook bursting with so many selfies and groufies and all kinds of photos every second, the fact remains that not all we see is true with the rampant spread of fake news and use of photoshop! Even the newscasts these days could not be relied on anymore with the kind of news they report that are usually taken from CCTV footages involving petty theft or accidents like collision of a tricycle and a PUJ in a remote barangay in Bulan, Sorsogon. Is that primetime news? According to a TV reporter I have talked to, people enjoy watching “action” caught on CCTV that networks now present these in prime time news. And there lies the problem with our “seeing” that has become very superficial, lacking depth or meaning. We have forgotten that the most wonderful things in life are not often seen with our eyes but with our hearts. And sometimes, the most beautiful things in life are always hidden from ordinary views that must be searched not only with our eyes but with our hearts and minds.
Today Jesus is inviting us to go deeper in our lives, in our seeing Him and others. And the best way to see Jesus is always to see Him on the Cross. In seeing Jesus on the Cross, we have to be with Him on the Cross too. It was on the Cross where Jesus expressed His immense love and mercy for us by dying like the grain of wheat. Hence, it is also on the Cross where we truly love Jesus and others too. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 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 more fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.”(Jn.12:23-26)
You want to see Jesus to find true love? Look at the face of your dad or mom and see those lines and wrinkles from the countless hours and moments they have worried about you, thinking of ways to provide for all your needs, to keep you safe from all harm. Then try seeing their hands to feel their rough palms toughened by the many loads of work they have labored because of their love for you. How are they now? Do you still visit them now they are sick and weak?
You want to see Jesus to find who is faithful to you? See the face of your wife or husband and try looking back to your memory when you were down with sickness or failures. See how your wife/spouse stood beside you, cared for you, sacrificed time, talent, and treasure for you. See how she/he was willing to suffer with you and suffer for you, even to the point of being misunderstood simply because she/he refused to tolerate your excesses in life. Are you still together? Remember, you cannot see Jesus among clowns and clappers who would only support you when things are going well then desert you when things get tough unlike your wife or spouse.