Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“Now my soul is troubled” (or “I am troubled now” in other translations) is the beginning of Jesus’ prayer. None of us, not even the Christ, embrace deep suffering easily. But Jesus reminds himself that this very hour is why he has come to us. He leans into his Father’s love even more intimately. “Father, glorify your name” – His prayer ends in an impassioned cry for victory!
When my friend, Fr Jim Willig, was struggling with Stage 4 renal cell cancer, he penned Lessons from the School of Suffering. There he wrote that the most helpful thing he learned in his bitter suffering was to unite himself with Jesus on the cross, who unites himself with us on our cross.
This is the key to transforming our suffering so that it transforms us.
Suffering by itself is useless, but when we unite our suffering with the loving heart of Jesus, we become the grain of wheat that bears much fruit.
—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ, is a retreat master, writer, and spiritual director at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House outside Chicago. His daily Lenten video reflections can be seen at heartoheart.org
PRAYER OF THE WHEAT GRAIN
Lord of my being,
God of my flesh,
Possess me through and through.
When the hour strikes,
May I count it gain,
For this wheat grain to be ground.
Let Your love lead me,
Your Spirit sustain me,
In You may I always be schooled.
—Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ
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