References to “Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior” have become popular among sports figures and music stars. After a victory or during an award, stars will give “glory” to God for their accomplishments. As admirable as these testimonials might be, do they really speak of God’s “glory?” Have you ever noticed none of these testimonials ever mention the cross? As we come closer to Easter, the cross looms larger. In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus stated his glory in plain terms. It was the cross.
Many go through our Catholic school system yet do not develop a personal relationship with Jesus, i.e., catechesis without a conversion of heart. When and how did you come to have a personal relationship with Jesus? Have you had the experience of God directly communicating with you?
How does the picture of a vulnerable Jesus praying to God with “loud cries and tears” touch you? How easy or hard is it for you to be this vulnerable before God? Do you tend to pray more with your head or with your heart?
In the Gospel, Jesus speaks of the wheat grain that must die.” Is there a grain of wheat that must die for you to become more like Jesus?
Also in the Gospel, Jesus says: “Father, save me from this hour” (of his suffering and death). Can you share an event in your life when you might also have said the same thing to God? What helped you to get through that hour?
Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.
How do you experience the New Covenant of which Jeremiah wrote? Do you have a personal awareness that God has addressed you as an individual and called you to enter into the divine Family through Jesus Christ the Lord? How is the death and resurrection of Jesus made real in your life today? Do you have a notion that you were involved when Jesus was lifted up on the cross and on Easter Sunday?
Have you (or your family or your parish community) ever known the truth of the saying “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?” Has there ever been an event of suffering, of surrender, of letting go, that has resulted in major spiritual growth? (Some parishes have lost their church buildings through fire or closure or have lost their parish priest and pastor through a sudden departure.)
Share with your group how, over the years, God has sought you out time and time again for a renewal of covenant with you. How have you been able to see the loving hand of God in the events that were so painful? Have you ever had doubts that God was present all the time, holding you up? Could you always see the trusting face of Jesus Christ and hold on to him for guidance and reassurance?
The setting for this Sunday’s Gospel is Jerusalem on Palm Sunday during the days leading up to the Passover feast (John 12:1). It is right after Jesus’ triumphal entry into the city (verses 12-19) where he draws a raucous crowd, prompting the Pharisees to remark, somewhat prophetically, “The whole world is going after him!” (verse 19).
Some “Greeks” approach Philip and tell him that they want to see Jesus. “Greek” was a termed used to describe non-Jews—or Gentiles. These were either Gentile converts to Judaism, or “God fearers”— Gentiles that were attracted to the monotheism and moral code of the Jews, but were put off by either Jewish social restrictions or by having to be circumcised. Philip is a Greek name (meaning “lover of horses”), so perhaps they approached Phillip because he spoke Greek.
The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Messiah would be “an ensign for nations and the outcasts of Israel” (Isaiah 11:10-12; CCC 542). The request of the Gentiles anticipates Jesus’ prophecy that “all men” will be drawn to him (John 12:32). As Gentiles visited him at his birth (Matthew 2:1-12), now they appear at the end of his ministry setting in motion the events leading up to his sacrifice, which will be for all men (John 1:29; 4:42; 1 John 2:2).
Like a grain of wheat that falls to the ground to bring new life (verses 24-25), Jesus must endure death to bring us to eternal life. This also holds true for his disciples—dying to self, and becoming channels for others (John 12:25; 2 Corinthians 4:11-12; Mark 8:34-38; Philippians 3:10-14; CCC 161).
In the 1st reading, what will be some of the differences between the “old covenant” Jeremiah prophesies, and the “new covenant”? Who will be included?
How does the 2nd reading illuminate the life of Jesus? What did he give up to be our Savior?
In the Gospel, what brought Gentiles to Jerusalem during the time of Jewish feasts? What was so unique about their request that Philip would filter it first through Andrew?
Jesus said several times that “his hour had not yet come” (John 2:4; 7:6, 30). What regarding the Gentile’s request caused him to say that now the time has come (verse 23)?
In Jesus’ parable (Jn 12:24), who is the grain of wheat?
What is Jesus calling his disciples to do in Jn 12:25-26? What promise do they receive?
In Jn 12:27-32, what is about to occur “now”? How does this affect Jesus?
Where is Jesus calling you to die so that you might live? How has this principal of the spiritual life manifested itself in your life? What was the fruit that resulted?
What do you tend to hold on to, rather than follow Jesus?
How do you think your life would be different if you perfectly knew the LORD?
Where are these events taking place?
What feast are the people about to celebrate?
What might people be feeling?
Why might the Greeks wish to see Jesus?
What might Philip think of their request?
Why do you think Philip first goes to Andrew?
How do people serve Jesus?
How do you think God will honor those who serve Jesus?
Why is Jesus troubled?
What does glorify mean?
Imagine you’re in the crowd. a) How do you explain the voice from heaven? b) What does Jesus say that most catches your attention? c) Do you understand what Jesus is talking about?
How do you love your life? How do you hate it?
From where must the ruler of this world still be driven out?
How is Jesus the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy?
MONDAYS – 7:30PM EST
Join the community of Saint Timothy Catholic Church in Laguna Niguel, CA for their weekly Bible study every Monday night from 7:30-8:30pm on Zoom to study the Gospel for the upcoming Sunday! Email Matt Zemanek at firstname.lastname@example.org for the link and information on how to join. No prior experience with the Bible is necessary. All are welcome!
Join Kate & Mike at Catholic Crusade on Tuesdays @ 8pm EST | Join us for our Bible Study livestream every Tuesday. We will read, reflect, and discuss the Gospel reading for the following Sunday’s Mass.
Why was Jesus troubled? Why was He troubled about His coming death?
What does a person who “loves his life” look like or do… in comparison to one who “hates his life”?
What character qualities does the world look for in a successful person? How are these the same or different from the character qualities that a successful person in God’s eyes must have?
How does the crowd’s reactions in the following verse tell us about the condition of their hearts? — The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
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