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  • Writer's pictureSara Ann Conneely

Trouble and Glory

Today’s Gospel is particularly difficult to read and reflect on; Jesus predicts his own death, says that those who wish to serve him must also die, states that he is “troubled” at the prospect of fulfilling his mission on earth, and challenges worldly leaders in a somewhat threatening way. 

Reading beyond just this story gives us a more clear interpretation of why Jesus is saying these things in this way. Before the passage used in today’s Gospel, John gives his account of Palm Sunday and Jesus’ glorious entry into Jerusalem, where he concludes his ministry. The second half of John’s Gospel, called the Book of Glory, takes place over the course of what we celebrate as Holy Week. Although John’s use of time is vague, the events line up with our practices of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. 

What stands out to me most in this Gospel reading are the words that come from the heavens, which Jesus says are not for his sake but for the sake of the crowd listening, asking him questions, and learning from him. Jesus says, “Father, glorify your name.” God’s voice responds, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” Believe it or not, these direct interventions on God's part are not common in the New Testament. We see his acknowledgment of who Jesus is in only a few other places, mainly Jesus’ Baptism and his Transfiguration, but aside from these, it is rare that we hear God the Father speaking in the Gospels. In the New Testament, we learn who God is through the person of Jesus rather than through the action of God the Creator, as we do in the Old Testament.

God’s voice in this story tells us that Christ has done well in his ministry. By asking God to glorify his name, Jesus asks God to recognize his glory at work in his miracles and teachings. In John’s Gospel especially, Jesus’ identity is shown through the signs he performs. These signs, which we can also call miracles, point us to the reality of grace that Christ brings to the world just by being himself. As we enter into the last few weeks of Lent, it is important to highlight the grandeur of God as we see in the person of Jesus.

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