Fifth Sunday in Lent

Mar 17, 2021 | Gospel Reflections

Fifth Sunday in Lent – Sister Marilyn Pechillo, SNDdeN

John 12: 20 – 33

March 21, 2021

Today’s Gospel reading offers a paradigm of Christian life. It speaks of making the effort to meet Jesus, embracing His teaching and living the Paschal Mystery. It also reminds us that we are not alone. We belong to a community of believers called to follow a leader who knows and understands our sufferings and joys.
During the feast in Jerusalem, some Greeks desire to see Jesus. They approach Philip, who, like Jesus, comes from Galilee. Philip engages Andrew, and both go to Jesus. The details of the layered approach to Jesus strike a chord. Often, when we are in awe of or a bit nervous about meeting someone, we seek a companion. Philip and Andrew bring the Greeks to Jesus, who then speaks solemnly about His mission.

Two things stand out here. First, the Greeks are foreigners, different from the apostles, and unknown to Jesus, yet Jesus welcomes them and includes them in His circle, sharing with the whole group His deepest feelings. He makes those who had been strangers friends! Second, Jesus knows what He is facing and struggles with it, asking His Father’s help. He continues to reveal the Paschal Mystery, solemnly proclaiming, “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” He accepts His mission, requesting not that the Father save Him from suffering but rather that the Father’s name be glorified. The Father speaks, declaring that He has glorified and will in the future glorify His name, thus affirming Jesus’ fulfillment of His mission.

In our everyday lives we walk with each other. May God give us the humility and courage to admit when we need help, to remember that we do not walk alone. May we trust God’s action in our lives and acknowledge with deep gratitude God’s work in us and through us. As we muddle through daily life, we know we cannot avoid Good Friday, but we hope for Easter Sunday. We know the joy of Jesus’ presence with us, of our God’s compassion and great love. May we answer the call to witness that love in our world community.


John 12: 20 – 33

Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. These approached Philip, who came from Bethsaida in Galilee, and put this request to him, “Sir, we should like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew, and Andrew and Philip together went to tell Jesus.

Jesus replied to them: “Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you, most solemnly, unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.
“Anyone who loves his life loses it; anyone who hates his life in this world will keep it for the eternal life. If a man serves me, he must follow me, wherever I am, my servant will be there too. If anyone serves me, my Father will honour him. Now my soul is troubled. What shall I say: Father, save me from this hour? But it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”

A voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

People standing by, who heard this, said it was a clap of thunder; other said, “It was an angel speaking to him.”
Jesus answered, “It was not for my sake that this voice came, but for yours. Now sentence is being passed on this world; now the prince of this world is to be overthrown. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself.”

By these words he indicated the kind of death he would die.

The Gospel of the Lord


Meet Sister Marilyn Pechillo, SNDdeN

Sr. Marilyn Pechillo grew up in Baltimore, MD and Stratford, CT. She met the SNDs in high school and entered Notre Dame in 1961. Sr. Marilyn studied Classics at Emmanuel College, Trinity in Hartford and Loyola University of Chicago. She taught in high school and college for many years, including several years at Trinity College (now Trinity University) in Washington, D.C. and two years at Loyola of Chicago’s Rome Center. Sr. Marilyn also served in province leadership. In more recent years, Sr. Marilyn has worked in pastoral ministry with SNDs and lay residents at Notre Dame Health Care in Worcester, where she served as Pastoral Care Associate and transition companion. Sr. Marilyn also serves on the US SND Anti-racism team