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Gospel reflection

March 17, 2024: Fifth Sunday of Lent

Gospel: John 12: 20-33

“Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came …a nd said to (Philip), ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ … Jesus was troubled and cried out, “Father, glorify your name. Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it and I will glorify it again’”… And Jesus said, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself. He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.”


Our Gospel today begins with the Greeks, or possibly the Gentiles who constituted more of John’s community, seeking to see Jesus.  Jesus responds by speaking of his destiny in its fullness.   The Greeks did “see” Jesus because for the Johannine community “to meet Jesus” was to understand his death. In understanding, one sees throughout all time and space, how everyone is called to the voice of God. Scripture scholars tell us thar the voice from heaven in John was meant solely for the listener’s benefit.  As the psalmist proclaims, “If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.” (Psalm 95)  

In listening to Jesus speak of his death you may have some of the same wonderments and reactions that I did earlier in life.  All was fantasy and more self-absorption of heroism. I was also terrified of death.  

The Gospel story of Jesus’ destiny is about continuing to grasp the meaning of Jesus’ death and then resurrection, without skipping over death. Jesus gave all in communicating the love of God then and now for all people.  Jesus once again speaks of being “lifted up.” This time John adds “to draw all people to (himself) myself.” 


The Passion has a summoning effect for us, calling us to live a faithful life with purpose and commitment to God’s Word as disciples and apostles of Christ. As this gospel tells us, Jesus was “troubled” (vs. 27) and cried out to the one he called Father to “save me from this hour.” So, we too get troubled. Do we trust sufficiently the One Who has drawn us to God’s Self to cry out for help and for sharing of ourselves?    

Is this Lent inviting you and me to reflect on our experiences and to meet Jesus anew in understanding his death?

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Sister Barbara Sheehan

Sister Barbara Sheehan

Sister Barbara Sheehan, SP, a Sister of Providence since 1960, lives in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods after several years in Chicago, where she ministered as Executive Director/ACPE Supervisor of the Urban Clinical Pastoral Education Consortium, Inc. and as a spiritual director. She has extensive training not only in clinical pastoral supervision but also in care with those sexually abused, those challenged with mental illness and those suffering trauma. She has offered many workshops at regional, national and international conferences, is the author of Partner in Covenant: The Art of Spiritual Companionship and of numerous articles including one of her latest, Formation For Professional Practice: Addressing Social Hurts" in Reflective Practice: Formation and Supervision in Ministry, Vol. 34 2014.

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  1. Avatar Paula Damiano SP on March 14, 2024 at 12:25 pm

    Thank you for a thought-provoking reflection, Barbara.

  2. Avatar Deb Griffey on March 15, 2024 at 9:44 pm

    Thank you for this reflection on what we know is coming.

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