With only one week until Palm Sunday, we are approaching the hour of Christ’s Passion and Death. And today’s Gospel has a distinct feeling of foreboding, as Christ admits how troubled He is at His impending death.
Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg, auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Seattle, stopped by Morning Air® to share his reflection on today’s Gospel reading, and how this passage of Scripture can help us come to know Jesus better. Bishop Mueggenborg said:
“As we approach these final Sundays of Lent, and we prepare to enter into the Paschal Mystery, we see that Jesus has finally arrived at His long-awaited hour. An hour that was first announced to us at the Wedding at Cana back in chapter 2 in John’s Gospel, is an hour that is actually coming upon Him in chapter 12.
There are some very particular people who are now being drawn to Him, and that is revealing to Jesus that His hour is very close at hand. In particular, we’re told that there were some Greeks who wanted to see Jesus. And whenever we’re told that these Greeks wanted to see Jesus, we need to remember two things.
The first is that by using the term ‘Greeks’ they were really talking about people who were non-Jews, people who were from the other nations of the world, all the other peoples. And secondly, when they said that they wanted to see Jesus, they were not religious paparazzi who just wanted to meet Jesus for the sake of an acquaintance. They were people who wanted to see Jesus with the eyes of faith.
So this reveals that the whole world is now starting to come to Jesus and be people of faith. They were drawn to Him by faith. At the very end of this Gospel passage, Jesus says when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. And so Jesus realizes that now that everyone is coming to Him, the time of Him being lifted up from the earth (referring to His crucifixion) is fast approaching.
In many of the Gospels we read how Jesus approached His impending death by preparing His disciples. He was very concerned about how they would respond to it. Certainly we hear Him praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, ‘Father, if it can, let this cup pass by me. But your will be done.’ And so we do see Jesus’ own prayer surfacing in preparation for it.
But in John’s Gospel, Jesus is very clear about His understanding of the power that His death will have. And this Gospel reading tells us very clearly that He understands His death is like a seed that goes into the ground. Indeed it may die, but it also rises to bear a rich harvest. And that’s a profound understanding of the mystery of Our Lord’s own death and resurrection.
So Jesus understood that His death would be salvific, it would be life-giving for the world. And that image of the seed going into the ground and dying is such a powerful one.
Jesus also understood that His death and resurrection should give encouragement to all Christians and disciples. Because He says very clearly that whoever serves Him will follow Him. And that means following Our Lord even to His death and resurrection. Jesus says, ‘Where I am, there My servant will be.’ That’s an instruction for us.
But finally, Jesus also understood that His moment of death would be the moment of His ultimate glorification of the Father. Jesus rendered the Father glory through His many works of ministry, and we saw those works even occurring at the Wedding at Cana, and continuing up until the resurrection of Lazarus. But the greatest work of Jesus, the greatest glory that Jesus gives the Father is through His ultimate gift of His sacrificial witness of love on the Cross of Calvary.
And so for Jesus, He knew that moment of ultimate glorification of the Father was fast approaching. And that’s why He explains in this passage, ‘Father, glorify your name,’ and the Father says that He has glorified it, and He will glorify it again – both on Calvary and in the lives of all disciples who follow You in Your own death and resurrection.”
Listen to the full reflection below:
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