A Lenten Renewal:
Reflections on the Mass readings in light of our daily lives
By Mother Marie Julie, SCMC
My Dear Good People,
This time next week we will be in Holy Week. But today as we consider the Scripture reading at Mass (John 8:21-30) Jesus is already thinking about His death and begins to speak about it with the people who are following Him—again. His Passion and Death must have always been on His mind. He had begun making reference to it early in His public life, not because He feared it, but because He was born for this, His life-giving death.
Of course, His listeners had difficulty understanding what He was telling them. They even wondered if He was planning to take His own life. Isn’t that often the way with us? We pray, and either we don’t hear anything at all, or something comes into our heart but we don’t know where it comes from or what it means. That doesn’t mean we aren’t being heard, nor does it mean we aren’t listening. It simply means that we have to discern: that is, we ask the Holy Spirit to teach us what God is saying to us or what He is doing in us. As spiritual writers say, we just have to sit with it.
A great part of praying, then, is about listening. It’s hard to do that when we don’t hear God’s voice. But we can’t stop listening. It’s like a patient (I think I’ve used this image before) who says to the surgeon who approaches him in the recovery room, Well, when are you going to do the surgery? Hopefully, we don’t remember anything at all about the operation, but that doesn’t mean the doctor didn’t do what was necessary to make the patient healthier. God, who is the Healer of our soul, always touches us when we open ourselves to Him in quiet prayer. We might walk away from our prayer time thinking Nothing just happened! But we are so wrong. The healing, the revealing certainly happened in our soul. And it will guide us in the hours, days, months ahead, sometimes without our even realizing it.
So it’s interesting that the people who were trying to understand what Jesus was telling them in this episode of the Gospel kept on listening, and eventually, John tells us, Because He spoke this way, many came to believe in Him (vs. 30). It sounds as though, if we keep listening and trying to understand His word, in time we will come to believe in Him—more deeply. And to know Him more is to love Him more.
During theses next eleven days before Easter (can it possibly be only eleven days!) we should try to turn often to the Scriptures to understand the Heart of Jesus as He enters His Passion. I might suggest you read chapters 13 through 17 of John’s Gospel. These pages invite us into the Upper Room where we can sit at table with Jesus and the apostles for the Passover meal—the Last Supper—where Jesus opens Himself to His closest friends and dreams aloud, prays aloud, expresses His fears and His love for them aloud, and then leaves to go to pray in Gethsemane where, in a few hours, he will be betrayed by the kiss of Judas and arrested. You won’t find the Institution of the Holy Eucharist in John’s Gospel (one wonders why). For that we go to Matthew 26:26-30, or Mark 14:22-25, or Luke 22:14-21. But John, who was next to Jesus at the Last Supper seems to have plumbed the depths of the soul of His Master these hours before His death, and shares this intimate encounter with us in a way the other three Gospel writers cannot do.
Jesus Himself tells us, in John 12:32,
When I am lifted up from the earth [in crucifixion], I will draw all to myself.
Is there any place in heaven or here below that we would rather be drawn?
God bless you.