Lectio notes on John 12:20-50

Today's section of St John's Gospel picks up events following Jesus' triumphant entry to Jerusalem.


You can find the Greek, Latin and Knox translations over at New Advent.  And you can listen to the Latin and the Greek.

The Latin:

20 Erant autem quidam gentiles, ex his qui ascenderant ut adorarent in die festo. 21 Hi ergo accesserunt ad Philippum, qui erat a Bethsaida Galilææ, et rogabant eum, dicentes: Domine, volumus Jesum videre. 22 Venit Philippus, et dicit Andreæ; Andreas rursum et Philippus dixerunt Jesu. 23 Jesus autem respondit eis, dicens: Venit hora, ut clarificetur Filius hominis. 24 Amen, amen dico vobis, nisi granum frumenti cadens in terram, mortuum fuerit, 25 ipsum solum manet: si autem mortuum fuerit, multum fructum affert. Qui amat animam suam, perdet eam; et qui odit animam suam in hoc mundo, in vitam æternam custodit eam. 26 Si quis mihi ministrat, me sequatur, et ubi sum ego, illic et minister meus erit. Si quis mihi ministraverit, honorificabit eum Pater meus.27 Nunc anima mea turbata est. Et quid dicam? Pater, salvifica me ex hac hora. Sed propterea veni in horam hanc: 28 Pater, clarifica nomen tuum. Venit ergo vox de cælo: Et clarificavi, et iterum clarificabo. 29 Turba ergo, quæ stabat, et audierat, dicebat tonitruum esse factum. Alii dicebant: Angelus ei locutus est. 30 Respondit Jesus, et dixit: Non propter me hæc vox venit, sed propter vos. 31 Nunc judicium est mundi: nunc princeps hujus mundi ejicietur foras. 32 Et ego, si exaltatus fuero a terra, omnia traham ad meipsum. 33 (Hoc autem dicebat, significans qua morte esset moriturus.)34 Respondit ei turba: Nos audivimus ex lege, quia Christus manet in æternum: et quomodo tu dicis: Oportet exaltari Filium hominis? quis est iste Filius hominis? 35 Dixit ergo eis Jesus: Adhuc modicum, lumen in vobis est. Ambulate dum lucem habetis, ut non vos tenebræ comprehendant; et qui ambulat in tenebris, nescit quo vadat. 36 Dum lucem habetis, credite in lucem, ut filii lucis sitis. Hæc locutus est Jesus, et abiit et abscondit se ab eis.37 Cum autem tanta signa fecisset coram eis, non credebant in eum; 38 ut sermo Isaiæ prophetæ impleretur, quem dixit:Domine, quis credidit auditui nostro? et brachium Domini cui revelatum est? 39 Propterea non poterant credere, quia iterum dixit Isaias: 40 Excæcavit oculos eorum, et induravit cor eorum ut non videant oculis, et non intelligant corde, et convertantur, et sanem eos. 41 Hæc dixit Isaias, quando vidit gloriam ejus, et locutus est de eo. 42 Verumtamen et ex principibus multi crediderunt in eum: sed propter pharisæos non confitebantur, ut e synagoga non ejicerentur. 43 Dilexerunt enim gloriam hominum magis quam gloriam Dei.44 Jesus autem clamavit, et dixit: Qui credit in me, non credit in me, sed in eum qui misit me. 45 Et qui videt me, videt eum qui misit me. 46 Ego lux in mundum veni, ut omnis qui credit in me, in tenebris non maneat. 47 Et si quis audierit verba mea, et non custodierit, ego non judico eum; non enim veni ut judicem mundum, sed ut salvificem mundum. 48 Qui spernit me et non accipit verba mea, habet qui judicet eum. Sermo quem locutus sum, ille judicabit eum in novissimo die. 49 Quia ego ex meipso non sum locutus, sed qui misit me, Pater, ipse mihi mandatum dedit quid dicam et quid loquar. 50 Et scio quia mandatum ejus vita æterna est: quæ ergo ego loquor, sicut dixit mihi Pater, sic loquor.

And the English:

 [20] Now there were certain Gentiles among them, who came up to adore on the festival day.[21] These therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying: Sir, we would see Jesus. [22] Philip cometh, and telleth Andrew. Again Andrew and Philip told Jesus. [23] But Jesus answered them, saying: The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. [24] Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, [25] Itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world, keepeth it unto life eternal.[26] If any man minister to me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my minister be. If any man minister to me, him will my Father honour. [27] Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause I came unto this hour. [28] Father, glorify thy name. A voice therefore came from heaven: I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. [29] The multitude therefore that stood and heard, said that it thundered. Others said: An angel spoke to him. [30] Jesus answered, and said: This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.[31] Now is the judgment of the world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. [32] And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself. [33] (Now this he said, signifying what death he should die.) [34] The multitude answered him: We have heard out of the law, that Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest thou: The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man? [35] Jesus therefore said to them: Yet a little while, the light is among you. Walk whilst you have the light, that the darkness overtake you not. And he that walketh in darkness, knoweth not whither he goeth.[36] Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things Jesus spoke; and he went away, and hid himself from them. [37] And whereas he had done so many miracles before them, they believed not in him: [38] That the saying of Isaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he said: Lord, who hath believed our hearing? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? [39] Therefore they could not believe, because Isaias said again: [40] He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.[41] These things said Isaias, when he saw his glory, and spoke of him. [42] However, many of the chief men also believed in him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, that they might not be cast out of the synagogue. [43] For they loved the glory of men more than the glory of God. [44] But Jesus cried, and said: He that believeth in me, doth not believe in me, but in him that sent me. [45] And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent me.
[46] I am come a light into the world; that whosoever believeth in me, may not remain in darkness. [47] And if any man hear my words, and keep them not, I do not judge him: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. [48] He that despiseth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. [49] For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father who sent me, he gave me commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. [50] And I know that his commandment is life everlasting. The things therefore that I speak, even as the Father said unto me, so do I speak.


Although Jesus' mission was primarily to the Jews, the Gospels do provide constant reminders of the broader invitation Christ offers, and hence a reminder of our own duty to evangelise, as the Catena Aurea explains:

BEDE. The temple at Jerusalem was so famous, that on the feast days, not only the people near, but many Gentiles from distant countries came to worship in it; as that eunuch of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians, mentioned in the Acts. The Gentiles who were at Jerusalem now, had come up for this purpose: And there were certain Gentiles among them who came to worship at the feast.

CHRYS. The time being now near, when they would be made proselytes. They hear Christ talked of, and wish to see Him: The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired: him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.

AUG. Lo! the Jews wish to kill Him, the Gentiles to see Him. But they also were of the Jews who cried, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. So behold them of the circumcision, and them of the uncircumcision, once so wide apart, coming together like two walls, and meeting in one faith of Christ by the kiss of peace...

AUG. Listen we to the voice of the corner stone: And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Did He think Himself glorified, because the Gentiles wished to see? No. But He saw that after His passion and resurrection, the Gentiles in all lands would believe in Him; and took occasion from this request of some Gentiles to see Him, to announce the approaching fullness of the Gentiles, for that the hour of His being glorified was now at hand, and that after He was glorified in the heavens, the Gentiles would believe; according to the passage in the Psalm, Set up Yourself, O God, above the heavens, and your glory above all the earth (Ps 56 and 107).

But it was necessary that His exaltation and glory should be preceded by His humiliation and passion; wherefore He says, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: out if it die, it brings forth much fruit. That corn was He, to be mortified in the unbelief of the Jews, to be multiplied in the faith of the Gentiles.

BEDE, He Himself, of the seed of the Patriarchs, was sown in the field of this world, that by dying, He might rise again with increase. He died alone; He rose again with many.

CHRYS. He illustrates His discourse by an example from nature. A grain of corn produces fruit, after it has cried. How much more then must the Son of God? The Gentiles were to be called after the Jews had finally offended; i.e. after His crucifixion. Now then that the Gentiles of their own accord offered their faith, He saw that His crucifixion could not be far off. And to console the sorrow of His disciples, which He foresaw would arise, He tells them that to bear patiently not only His death, but their own too, is the only way to good:

The grain of wheat analogy reminds us firstly that our won inevitable death should be viewed in the light of our hope of heaven and eternal life with Christ.  But secondly, it should help put our choices in this world into perspective, even to the point of facing martyrdom if we are called to it:

AUG. This may be understood in two ways: 1. If you love it, lose it: if you would preserve your life in Christ, fear not death for Christ. 2. Do not love your life here, lest you lose it hereafter. The latter seems to be the more evangelical sense; for it follows, And he that hates his life in this world, shall keep it to life eternal.

CHRYS. He loves his life in this world, who indulges its inordinate desires; he hates it, who resists them. It is not, who cloth not yield to, but, who hates. For as we cannot bear to hear the voice or see the face of them whom we hate; so when the soul invites us to things contrary to God, we should turn her away from them with all our might.

THEOPHYL. It were harsh to say that a man should hate his soul; so He adds, in this world: i.e. for a particular time, not forever. And we shall gain in the end by so doing: shall keep it to life eternal.

AUG. But think not for an instant, that by hating your soul, is meant that you may kill yourself. For wicked and perverse men have sometimes so mistaken it, and have burnt and strangled themselves, thrown themselves from precipices, and in other ways put an end to themselves. This did not Christ teach; nay, when the devil tempted Him to cast Himself down, He said, Get you hence, Satan. But when no other choice is given you; when the persecutor threatens death, and you must either disobey God's law, or depart out of this life, then hate your life in this world, that you may keep it to life eternal.

CHRYS. This present life is sweet to them who are given up to it. But he who looks heavenwards, and sees what good things are there, soon despises this life. When the better life appears, the worse is despised. This is Christ's meaning, when He says, If any man serve Me, let him follow Me, i.e. imitate Me, both in My death, and life. For he who serves, should follow him whom he serves.

AUG. But what is it to serve Christ? The very words explain. They serve Christ who seek not their own things, but the things of Jesus Christ, i.e. who follow Him, walk in His, not their own v ways, do all good works for Christ's sake, not only works of mercy to men's bodies, but all others, till at length they fulfill that great work of love, and lay down their lives for the brethren. But what fruit, what reward? you ask. The next words tell you: And where I am, there shall also My servant be. Love Him for His own sake, and think it a rich reward for your service, to be with Him.

CHRYS. So then death will be followed by resurrection. Where I am, He says; for Christ was in heaven before His resurrection. Thither let us ascend in heart and in mind.

If any man serve Me, him will My Father honor. This must be understood as an explanation of the preceding. There also shall My servant be. For what greater honor can an adopted Son receive than to he where the Only Son is?

The voice of an angel speaks, providing testimony to what is to be.  We too should listen to that inner voice from our guardian angel:

GREG. When God speaks audibly, as He does here, but no visible appearance is seen, He speaks through the medium of a rational creature: i.e. by the voice of an Angel.

AUG. I have glorified it, i.e. before I made the world; and will glorify it again, i.e. when you shall rise from the dead. Or, I have gloried it, when you were born of a Virgin, did work miracles, was made manifest by the Holy Ghost descending in the shape of a dove; and will glorify it again, when you shall rise from the dead, and, as God, be exalted above the heavens, and your glory above all the earth.

 The people therefore that stood by and heard it, said that it thundered.

CHRYS. The voice though loud and distinct, soon passed off from their gross, carnal, and sluggish minds; only the sound remaining. Others perceived an articulate voice, but did not catch what it said: Others said, An Angel spoke to Him.

 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes.

AUG. i.e. It did not come to tell Him what He knew already, but them what they ought to know. And as that voice did not come for His sake, but for theirs, so His soul was not troubled for His sake, but for theirs...

AUG And be converted, and I should heal them. Is not to be understood here, from the beginning of the sentence - that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor be converted; conversion being the free gift of God? or, shall we suppose that a heavenly remedy is meant; whereby those who wished to establish their own righteousness, were so far deserted and blinded, as to stumble on the stumbling stone, till, with confusion of face, they humbled themselves, es, and sought not their own righteousness which puffs up the proud, but God's righteousness, which justifies the ungodly.

For many of those who put Christ to death, were afterward troubled with a sense of their guilt; which led to their believing in Him. These things said Isaiah, when he saw His glory, and spoke of Him. He saw Him not really, but figuratively, in prophetic vision. Be not deceived by those who say that the Father is invisible, the Son visible, making the Son a creature. For in the form of God, in which He is equal to the Father, the Son also is invisible; though He took upon Him the form of a servant, that He might be seen by men. Before His incarnation too, He made Himself visible at times to human eyes; but visible through the medium of created matter, not visible as He is.

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