|John’s Gospel speaks of the culmination of Jesus’ salvific mission as his “hour” when he will be “lifted up from the earth,” his ignominious death hoisted on a cross as the paradoxical revelation of his glory. Such is not glory by any typical human standard, least of all that of popular stardom or public adulation. Indeed, Jesus confides to his closest friends, “I am troubled now.”
Troubled, Jesus prays to the God and Father with whom he shares an intimate (faith believes, unique) bond of love. In his very person, his prayer and his actions, Jesus is the realization of God’s promise through the prophet, “All, from least to greatest, shall know me.” In the Hebrew tradition, this knowing has the affective character of trust, of love, of giving oneself over in mutual surrender to the other. Such a prayerful life lived unto death is human perfection itself, himself. The Jesus whom we follow, whom we “obey,” is now the “source of [our] eternal salvation.”
Obedience is hardly a word that falls easily on the ears of an individualistic, market-driven society. But for us believers it is Good News, bespeaking the divine-human love ever with us, even when troubled, even when we may not feel it. Saint Ignatius teaches us that times of dread or despair are when the evil spirit preys on our thoughts. Then is the moment to invite Christ’s Spirit to pray with and through us, knowing ourselves profoundly loved.
Rev. Bruce T. Morrill, S.J. ‘81