Fifth Sunday of Lent – John 12:20-33

Fifth Sunday of Lent Gospel reflection, John 12:20-33, by Sister Elaine, Head of the National Office of Vocation.

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We humans have a natural aversion to death, especially our own death. The challenge from Jesus in this gospel invites us to follow him in his path to death; “If a man serves me, he must follow me.” 

The crucial difference in Jesus’ way of living his life, is that he sees it from a universal perspective… an outer-space universe, infinite-time, perspective. Pain, suffering and even death is a blip in the bigger picture of what we are called to share in when we follow Jesus. He sees this life not as the central purpose of existence, but at the service of our life, existence, salvation… “It was for this very reason I have come to this hour.” Humanly, it is hard even for Jesus, but he shows us it can be done. 

The point is not simply the death, it is the giving of everything he has, to us, because of love, because God is our life-originator and sustainer. The point is that nothing will be too much for his purpose of giving us life, so that we can be with him forever. We are that precious to God! 

So, for us, Jesus says, “wherever I am, my servant will be there too.” To be a servant means to follow the master all over the place, always ready to respond to his wishes. The reassuring thing is that this goes both ways. Where we go as Jesus’ servants, or where we see servants of Jesus, we know that Jesus is there too. His servants will be those who do the work of bringing life to the world, those building up the Kingdom of God, those proclaiming the Good News through their words and actions.  

Following Jesus’ example to give of ourselves, even through suffering and exhaustion, even to death, for the sake of our fellow humans loved by God… that “grain” of our offering will bring life also, multiplying itself in a sacred pass-it-on liturgy of praise, glorifying the Father, and honouring Jesus.  

In the end, Jesus prays, “Father, glorify your name!” just like in the way he taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” Jesus’ life was at every moment, directed to God the Father. His trust in the divine plan was so absolute, that he would do nothing that was outside the function of God’s creative wisdom.  

How can we, in our daily lives, transform our thoughts, prayers and actions to those modelled by Jesus?  

Sr Elaine Penrice
Head of the National Office of Vocation