By Mgr Anthony Abela
Fifth Sunday of Lent Drawn to Jesus John 12:20-33: 20 Some Greeks were among those who had gone to Jerusalem to worship during the festival. 21 They went to Philip (he was from Bethsaida in Galilee) and said, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew, and the two of them went and told Jesus.
23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has now come for the Son of Man to receive great glory. 24 I am telling you the truth: a grain of wheat remains no more than a single grain unless it is dropped into the ground and dies. If it does die, then it produces many grains. 25 Those who love their own life will lose it; those who hate their own life in this world will keep it for life eternal. 26 Whoever wants to serve me must follow me, so that my servant will be with me where I am. And my Father will honour anyone who serves me.
27 “Now my heart is troubled – and what shall I say? Shall I say, ‘Father, do not let this hour come upon me’? But that is why I came – so that I might go through this hour of suffering. 28 Father, bring glory to your name!” Then a voice spoke from heaven, “I have brought glory to it, and I will do so again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard the voice, and some of them said it was thunder, while others said, “An angel spoke to him!” 30 But Jesus said to them, “It was not for my sake that this voice spoke, but for yours. 31 Now is the time for this world to be judged; now the ruler of this world will be overthrown.
32 When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to me.” 33 (In saying this he indicated the kind of death he was going to suffer.) Other Readings: Jeremiah 31:31-34; Psalm 51:1-2, 10-13; Hebrews 5:7-9 Only John tells us this story about the Greek visitors. In John’s Gospel Jesus entered Jerusalem accompanied by a huge crowd who honoured him as he entered the city.
Among the crowds were some Greeks and they asked Philip if he could arrange for them to meet Jesus. This encounter with these “foreigners” stirs Jesus’s compassion. He recalls once again that his mission is for people of all nations.
On the face of it Jesus was the celebrity of the day. But Jesus knew this hour of seeming triumph would soon crumble into an hour of bitter humiliation and unbearable pain. Within days these very same crowds would be calling for his crucifixion and even his closest friends would desert him. You can read John’s full description elsewhere in his Gospel. Jesus drops a hint to his disciples about his inner turmoil, which they remember after his death. While Jesus is speaking about his “hour of suffering” God intervenes with an audible voice from heaven, verse 28. It appears that some people hear the voice and others think it is thunder, but Jesus makes it clear (verse 30) that God’s words are for the peoples’ benefit rather than to reassure him.
How does Jesus hint at his death on the cross in this reading? Jesus also mentions the great principle that guided him in life. What is this principle? Who is Jesus referring to when he speaks about the ruler of this world being overthrown (verse 31)?
In what ways do you serve and follow Jesus?
Jesus promises he will draw all men to himself when he is lifted up on the cross in verse 32. Have you experienced Jesus drawing you closer to him? Sometimes this sort of loving closeness can be scary. Ask Jesus to help you love and trust him as he so obviously loved and trusted his Father.
Use the words from today’s Psalm, especially verse 10, every day this week as your own prayer “Create a pure heart in me, O God, and put a new and loyal spirit in me.” Today’s other readings throw more light on Jesus’s mission to save humankind. In Jeremiah 31:31-34 God speaks of a new covenant with the Jewish people and, through them, all peoples so, “all will know him” (verse 34).
In Hebrews 5 we hear of Jesus’s willingness to suffer the humiliation of the cross because it is God’s plan for him. Jesus accepted his suffering before it started. At the root of it all is God’s passionate love for frail humanity including you and me. How does God’s great love change your relationship with him?
Lectio divina, or “spiritual reading”, is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word. These outlines for the Sunday Gospel readings are written by Mgr Anthony Abela and published by Bible Society. They can be downloaded free in several languages from www.biblesociety.org.uk/le ctio. Bible Society is a charity that works towards a day when the Bible’s lifechanging message is shaping lives and communities everywhere.