Tomorrow we read about Jesus’ impending sufferings and that he speaks of it as troubling. A group of Greek pilgrims approaches Philip asking to speak with Jesus. We know nothing about the pilgrims other than that they desire this audience. In the when we come upon them in the Gospel, they are seeking the satisfaction of meeting Jesus. John does not tell us if they ever got to speak directly with Jesus. They first approach Philip, who in turn approaches Andrew, and then the two of them approach Jesus. Did the Greeks accompany them, or did they have to stay behind to wait? We do not know, but the word from Jesus is about suffering. He says that suffering is near at hand for himself and that anyone wishing to follow him must be willing to die to all else.
This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:
How easily the promises of life turn to suffering! At some point life has betrayed all of us. In our youth we may have pictured life as a gradual succession of triumphs: health, education, employment, love, marriage, children, security, peace, etc. But then, almost imperceptibly, things change. Trouble comes. All the former contentment pales because we are troubled now.
Although he is speaking of fulfilling perfectly the plan for which he was sent, Jesus speaks of it as troubling. As a man he trembles at the prospect of the suffering to come. “Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?” Rather, “Father, glorify your name.”
In the second reading, the author of Hebrews indicates that Jesus had to suffer his way to readiness with “prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears” (Heb 5:7). He learned from his suffering and was perfected by it, and only then was he able to become “the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Heb 5:7–9).
The Greeks, who represent all of us, will have to learn the value of suffering. It is not that the Father glories in our suffering, but he glories in our readiness, our understanding, our desire to fulfill his holy will. And we remind ourselves that God’s will holy because it is his plan of eternal blessedness for us.