Gospel Reflections (John 12:20-33)

This moving gospel reading is the immediate prelude to the account of the Last Supper and the Passion. In it we witness how Jesus’ dread (his soul is ‘troubled’) is mixed with confidence at what he knows is approaching. In the gospel of John there is no agony in the garden before Jesus’ arrest, for in John the story of the Passion is so shaped that it is clearly understood as the triumph of the Son of Man. There is no mention of humiliation or mockery. Jesus remains in control from the beginning (when he permits the guards to take him into custody) until the end (when he calls out that he is ready to die: ‘It is complete’). This is all about the hour of the exaltation of the Son of Man, when Jesus is raised up in every sense. All the more important, then, for John to show that (before the Passion) the cost for Jesus was real. He does this with this little dialogue in prayer between Jesus and his Father. This is John’s equivalent to the prayer in the garden. The second reading from Hebrews is another variant on Jesus’ prayer before his Passion. All these prayers express Jesus’ very human fear, his unshakable commitment to his task and his loving confidence in his Father’s care. Does Jesus fear death? Do you? What are the grounds for Jesus’ confidence? Do you share this confidence?


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