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Fifth Sunday of Lent. The reading is from Gospel of John 12:20-33.

Now there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”

Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

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 much 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. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”

The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”

Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

In today’s gospel reading we see Jesus’ announcement of glorification by death is an illustration of “the whole world” going after him:

  • So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the whole world has gone after him.” (John 12:19)

The phrase “the whole world” meaning that everyone is following Jesus, but John has an ironic play on the word “world”; he alludes to the universality of salvation in:

  • For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:17)

and they said to the woman,

  • “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.” (John 4:42)

We read in John,

  • Now there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. (John 12:20-22)

Here John might not have used the word “Greeks” in a nationalistic sense. These are probably Gentile converts to Judaism. Also, John mentions the Greeks in the following verse:

  • So the Jews said to one another, “Where is he going that we will not find him? Surely he is not going to the dispersion among the Greeks to teach the Greeks, is he? (John 7:35)

By “Dispersion” or “diaspora” John means the Jews living outside Palestine.

Philip, Andrew and Peter were from Bethsaida in Galilee and perhaps also James and John. Galileans were mostly bilingual. The Greeks try to approach Jesus through the disciples Philip and Andrew, who have distinctly Greek names, suggesting that access to Jesus was mediated to the Greek world through his disciples.

  • Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. (John 12:23)

Jesus’ response suggests that only after the crucifixion could the gospel encompass both Jew and Gentile.

  • Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat;r but if it dies, it produces much fruit. (John 12:24)

This verse implies that through his death Jesus will be accessible to all. It remains just a grain of wheat: this saying is found in the synoptic triple and double
traditions (Mark 8:35; Matthew 10:39;, 16:25; Luke 9:24, 17:33).

John adds the phrases “in this world” and “for eternal life” in verse 25:

  • Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. (John 12:25)

The phrase “I am troubled” in

  • “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. (John 12:27)

is perhaps an allusion to the Gethsemane agony scene of the synoptics.

The phrase “ruler of this world” in

  • Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. (John 12:31)

is none other than Satan.

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