Most merciful God, who by the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ delivered and saved the world: Grant that by faith in him who suffered on the cross, we may triumph in the power of his victory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Hebrews 5:5-10
5 So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’; 6as he says also in another place, ‘You are a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedek.’
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus* offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, 10having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.
Gospel: John 12:20
20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24Very 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. 25Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
27 ‘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. 28Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.’ 29The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, ‘An angel has spoken to him.’ 30Jesus answered, ‘This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people* to myself.’ 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
Through Jesus Christ our Saviour, who, for the redemption of the world, humbled himself to death on the cross; that, being lifted up from the earth, he might draw all people to himself:
God of hope, in this eucharist we have tasted the promise of your heavenly banquet and the richness of eternal life. May we who bear witness to the death of your Son, also proclaim the glory of his resurrection, for he is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.
Christ crucified draw you to himself and grant that you find in his cross a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven:
PRAYER V: Through him, with him, in him
This is the last of our little Lent series of reflections on prayer. We have frequently mentioned that we pray as part of the Body of Christ, and that Body has a Head, namely Jesus himself. We do not pray apart from Jesus: the formula is “Through him, with him, in him”. Jesus is the High Priest who intercedes for us (through him); he is our partner and mentor (with him); it is as his Body that the Church prays (in him).
Today’s reading from Hebrews reminds us: “In the days of his flesh, Jesus* offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death”. The Gospels show Jesus as one who prayed, who taught his disciples to pray, and put into practice what he taught. Our praying continues that aspect of Jesus’ life: his example encourages us and his instruction informs us. The Lord’s Prayer shows what it means to pray in the name of Jesus.
Hebrews reflects upon Jesus as “our great High Priest”, who ever lives to make intercession for us. Michael Ramsey described intercession as “being with God with the people on your heart”. Our praying is more than following a past example; it is sharing in an eternal and continuing work of Christ. When the Church gathers to celebrate the Eucharist, not only is our worship a sharing in the worship of heaven, it is a sharing in Jesus’ self-offering to the Father.
Perhaps the most profound and tantalising aspect of prayer, is that it is more God’s action than ours, and that it is part of God’s life, part of the endless loving conversation of the Holy Trinity. Jesus’ praying to his Father “in the days of his flesh” is the incarnate manifestation of the eternal dynamic of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we are invited to listen to that eternal conversation, to join in, to be swept up into that flood of light and love and holy joy.
When I started these reflections, I spoke of reluctance to pray. Perhaps there is something helpful in the idea that prayer is more about God than us, an invitation to join in, to allow the spirit to pray in us, to lift up our hearts to the Lord, to take the place graciously prepared for us in the praise-song of creation, reflection of the life of the Holy Trinity.
Through him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory are yours, Almighty Father, for ever and ever. Amen.