Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of John (7: 1-2, 10, 25-30) in which Jesus goes up to Jerusalem for the annual Festival of Tabernacles or Sukkoth.Fr Paul says on this festival the custom was, and still is, to spend the time not in the house but in a leafy booth probably attached to the house. This commemorates the time spent in tents and temporary shelters during the desert wanderings. Jesus takes the occasion of his visit to Jerusalem to reiterate his relationship to ‘the One who sent him’, continuing the witness we have heard in the last three Gospel readings ‘The Jews’ still cannot take control of him ‘because his Hour has not yet come’ and this ‘Hour’ provides a thread running through the Gospel of John. It appears first, and mysteriously, at the marriage-feast of Cana, where Jesus initially refuses his mother’s request on the grounds that his Hour has not yet come. Then in this controversy on the Festival of Tabernacles it still has not yet come. Finally, at the beginning of the Last Supper, he sees that the Hour has come (13: 1). It is the Hour of his Glorification (17: 1-2) when he is to be lifted up from the earth. With typical Johannine ambiguity this ‘lifting up’ is both physical, exalted onto the Cross, and metaphorical, exalted and glorified by, and with, his Father. Fr Paul says, the hour has not yet come for us either. We are in the final days of our Lenten journey, and he puts this question to us for our reflection – What do I really need to do this Lent before the hour of our Easter Celebration comes?
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