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Jesus’ Mercy Endures Forever

Easter: Celebrating the Gift of Life!

Opening Our Hearts to Receive Jesus’ Mercy

Jesus’ Victory Is For Eternity

God’s Faithfulness Is Beyond Our Understanding

Msgr. Joseph Prior

(Readings of the Holy Mass – Fifth Sunday of Lent)

Saint Ignatius of Loyola composed the prayer commonly called Suscipe. The word comes from the Latin meaning “receive.” Saint Ignatius formulated the prayer as a result of his spiritual conversion. He comes to know the Lord who is the center and source of all he is and has. As he recognizes this, the desire to give everything over to the Lord, to place all that he is and has at the service of the One who gives. The prayer reads:

“Take, Lord, receive all my liberty
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.”

The prayer comes to mind as we continue our journey through Lent. The period of the Lord’s passion is approaching. As our focus on Jesus deepens so to our awareness of His immense love for each one of us.

In the Gospel account for today’s liturgy, Jesus, once again, teaches us about the centrality of the cross. In preparing His disciples for His passion, He says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” The wheat refers to Himself. He will die but His death will bear much fruit – eternal life. In a real way, He has been dying along, dying to self. He gives of Himself in love to all He encounters. His love is seen in his healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, feeding the hungry, raising the dead, teaching the disciples, and proclaiming the Kingdom. The culmination of this life of love, this self-offering, comes to completion on the cross when He “lays down His life for His friends.”

Recognizing the Lord’s love for us fills us with joy and peace. It also wells up in our souls the desire to walk in His way which is the way of life, true life, for He “is the Way, the Truth and the Life.” He teaches us how to do this as the Gospel passage continues, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

Our Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, each in their own way, but also taken together, help us to join with Him in the life of love, of dying to self, and allowing new life to arise, His life in us. The life will bear much fruit for His passion leads to resurrection. Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection establishes the new covenant of which Jeremiah speaks in the first reading. Through our participation in the Paschal Mystery, Christ Jesus dwells within us. He pours forth His spirit and writes the law of love on our hearts. This law of love becomes visible in us whenever we sacrifice ourselves in love of God and others.

The prayer of St. Ignatius succinctly expresses the desire and willingness to “take up the cross daily,” and follow Jesus. In laying down our lives with Him we find life. Everything we need for life is found in Him who loves us and forgives us our sins.

And so we pray, “give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.”

***

Msgr. Joseph Prior is pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish, Penndel, and a former professor of Sacred Scripture and rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary.

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