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Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.

I ask God for the grace to see Christ clearly in all things and respond in love.

Prayer Text

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like 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. 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. 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. 

“I am troubled now.  Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 

Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, 
I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

Jn 12:20-33

Reflection

By Mary Grace Mangano

One thing I really enjoy is attending Mass in different places. In particular, I love daily weekday Masses because they are more intimate. When I was studying abroad in Italy, it was a joy to see the faithful gathering each morning — and then chatting for longer than the Mass itself to check up on their neighbors. When I had the chance to take a trip to London for a research grant, I visited the Brompton Oratory, founded during the time of St. John Henry Newman’s conversion, and was deeply moved by the large number of people who worshipped there. When I have gone on vacation to little beach towns, it is the regular parishioners — the year-rounders — and the parish priest who strike me.

During Lent of last year, I had the opportunity to visit a family member living in the Netherlands. At a Mass with a large international congregation, and despite many ways I’d been aware of being foreign earlier in the day, I felt connected to those in attendance with me who desired to see Jesus and follow him as I do. This past summer, I attended daily Mass for a week at a church near my hometown and I sometimes would sit in the pews after Mass and thank God for the witness of the “regulars.” A number of people were there every day, as I had noticed in my short time being there. They watered plants, blew out the altar candles, placed flowers before the statue of the Virgin Mary and sang the Salve Regina.

“We would like to see Jesus,” the Greeks say to Philip and Andrew in this week’s Gospel. When this is conveyed to Jesus, Jesus offers them a way not only to see him, but to be with him. He understands their deeper request and answers it, as he does with each of us. Seeing Jesus is temporary, especially since at this moment in history, he is preparing for death. Jesus knows he will not be with them much longer, and they won’t be able to see him. So, he teaches them how to be with him.

We, too, would like to see Jesus. Until he comes again, we aren’t able to see him as his apostles did in the first century. But we can be with him, and he can be with us, in all places and at all times. Sometimes, I think we overcomplicate this. I know I do. But I have come to see that meeting Jesus, seeing Jesus, can happen in the most ordinary, quiet ways. It doesn’t require grand gestures or that we stick to a specific prayer routine. Maybe during Lent, our sacrifices haven’t been perfect, but then we resolve to begin again, to redirect our gaze to the cross.

In Jesus’ response to the Greeks who desire to see him, Jesus says, “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.” Like the grain of wheat that must die, we also must imitate Jesus and give ourselves away so that our lives can produce much fruit. What really astonishes me and what I have learned from watching people at these Masses around the world is the sincerity and beauty of their ordinary faith. They show up to worship, to serve, to present themselves before God. They come to see Jesus. And I’m convinced that these small acts of faith produce much fruit.

In the final days of this Lenten journey, perhaps the only sacrifice we offer is a contrite heart and spirit. And that’s really all Jesus asks. In all the ordinary, hidden-from-the-crowd places, Christ is there. If we bring our hearts to him, if we try to follow him, we will surely see him.

Questions for Contemplation

  • How is Jesus asking you to draw near during these final weeks of Lent? 
  • We believe that God is present in all things. Has there been a surprising place in which you’ve encountered Christ this Lent? What might God be inviting you to in that place?

Closing Prayer

God, present in all places and all things, tune my senses to better encounter you in the ordinary, mundane, seemingly insignificant moments of my life. Help me to turn these quieter moments in opportunities of hope, joy and love. Amen.

Meet the Writer

Mary Grace Mangano is a writer currently living in New Jersey. She received her MFA in creative writing at the University of St. Thomas in Houston as an inaugural Gioia Family Fellowship recipient. Her writing has been published in America magazine, Dappled Things, Fare Forward and others. You can find more of her work at marygracemangano.wordpress.com.