Daily Reflection
April 6th, 2003
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
5th Sunday of Lent
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15
Hebrews 5:7-9
John 12:20-33

So as to be more available to the graces of the readings and the Eucharist, we might use our imaginations to picture Jesus planting some seeds while walking back and forth in the prepared field.  Two of his disciples stop his progress and are informing him excitedly about a group of Greek converts to Judaism desiring to speak with him.

Jesus bends down, sticks his finger in the dirt, gently places some seeds deep into the earth, pauses before rising, then begins talking to his friends, but also seems to be speaking past them, a bit over their heads.  His face remains peaceful, but intensely fixed.


We pray with the fidelity of God in today’s readings.  The “ever-New” God insists on breaking into human hearts.  Laws just don’t do it so there will be new hearts made for relational responses and no instructions written on the side. 

We can pray these days with the deep heart-felt knowledge we have of who God is and what God asks of us.  We are the sought for and the beloved.  God is also the divine sought for; our hearts are ancient in their incompleteness.  We pray with the fastings and the “goings without” to experience God’s comforting of our emptinesses.  If we do not long, we can not find nor be found. We pray with our intentional resistings of our natural demands for immediate satisfaction so our bodies, hearts, and spirits can be available for the graces which come when we “die” to “rise.” 

Lent’s prayers and readings move us to our following of Jesus through Jerusalem to the fullness of the empty tomb.


The “hour” is drawing near.  Next weekend we will hold palms and begin our recalling of the “Christ-Over” or final expression of the same faithful love revealed in the first Exodus.  The “hour” is close for Jesus in today’s Gospel.  The “time” is coming in the First Reading when the words of Jeremiah will be fulfilled for the comfort of the people of Israel in bondage.  They had broken the bond of love God initiated with them after the exodus from Egypt.  They had not followed the precepts of the law and had taken their land as a sign of their own identity rather than the sign of God’s identifying them as God’s own beloved.

There is then a kind of “second Exodus” out of bondage and instead of an external law, this “new Covenant” will be written deeply on the hearts.  They will know from deep inside them that they are God’s people and God will be their “one God.”  God promises to forgive and forget, only recalling the love which created them and then recreated them as the Holy People of God’s 
own heart.  They will know this and keeping the laws of fidelity and reverence will be expressions of faith rather than fear.
Early in John’s Gospel, his mother asked him to do something about the wedding-host’s not having enough wine.  He told her that his “hour” had not yet come.  In today’s Gospel, John pictures Jesus confessing that the “hour” had come.  His signs, the miracles, have been displayed and so with this chapter closes the “Book of Signs” and the “Book of Glory” begins.  The Greek converts ask to see Jesus.  This triggers for Jesus the realization that his work of revealing himself to the Jews through his signs is over. 

The remaining verses combine a reflection for those who will be his true followers with a pre-visit to his own struggle which is his own “agony in the Garden.”  For John, “glory” is Jesus at his most regal and that is, his being enthroned on the cross.  The “voice” from heaven is John’s version of Luke’s “angel” comforting Jesus in that garden. 

Jesus has revealed the “glory” of God and will do even more by his passion and death for which he is preparing to suffer and we are preparing to celebrate.  He will draw all to him as he is lifted up both on the cross and raised in his resurrection.  The “voice” is also a comfort for us who have heard his call to die to our own godhoods and like the grains of wheat, rise and flourish to an abundant way of living.  We need our comforting as well. 

The law of love was written in Jesus’ heart and he grew to accept his mission of giving life to the point of giving his own life to begin the process of completing creation.  He will fall into the earth and rise to bring us and all to the glorification of the creating and redeeming God.  He loved his life and mission to the end; he was obedient to his own person and place.  What was written on his heart, we share through baptism.  We know somewhere deeply in our souls that true living does come through loving our lives in Christ and “hating” our lives as if they were our own creation, we were our own destiny.  How could we “hate” what God has given us and given the Christ to bless, call and save.  If Jesus loved his life even to his death, then we who live in, with and through him, follow him through the same passage and pattern to our resurrections and the glorification of God. 

As easy as this is to write, I quiver at its truth and tremble in its call.  Today’s Eucharist is the “voice” again comforting us to live what we are collectively and individually preparing to celebrate in these coming days and live these coming weeks, months and years even to our deaths.

“Create a clean heart in me O God.” Psalm 51  

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