All Saints and Blesseds of the Society of Jesus – Readings

Commentary on Deuteronomy 30:11-14; Ps 5; John 12:23-26

The Gospel reading comes from John. We are on the eve of Jesus’ Passion. In verses immediately preceding our reading, we are told that among those who were going up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover were “some Greeks”, referring to Gentile converts to Judaism. They approached the Apostle Philip (whose name was Greek) and said they wanted to “see Jesus”. Philip in turn went to tell his fellow-Apostle Andrew (another Greek name) and together they went to Jesus with the request.
Jesus gave them a very enigmatic answer: “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.” Jesus goes on to clarify his meaning: “The man who loves his life loses it, while the man who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal.”
The meaning is clear enough for us now. The Greeks had asked to “see” Jesus. Presumably that is all they wanted – to lay their eyes on the man about whom they probably had heard so much. For Jesus, though, it is not enough just to see him externally. To “see Jesus” is to know and understand and totally accept his Way. And part of that Way is a readiness to sacrifice his present life in this world for a life that will never end.
Jesus then goes on to say that, if anyone wants to become his follower, “let him follow me, so that where I am my servant will be”. In other words, the followers of Jesus must be ready to offer up their lives too. Is this what the Greeks meant in wanting to see Jesus?
The saints and blessed and other faithful members of the Society of Jesus whose glory we celebrate today are where they are because they, too, made a total offering of their lives to follow the Way of Jesus and made it possible for so many others to do so also.  

The First Reading is a short passage from the Book of Deuteronomy. Basically, it is saying that God’s will is not something mysterious and difficult to understand. “It is not up in the sky that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’”
On the contrary, God has revealed his will so clearly that no one can reasonably claim ignorance about it. It can really be summed up in one sentence of Jesus in the Gospel: “Love one another as I have loved you… By this will all know that you are my followers, if you have love one for another.”
Or, as Paul puts in when writing to the Romans: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is the Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Faith in the heart leads to justification, confession on the lips to salvation.” (Rom 10:9).
The Jesuits we remember today based their lives on the Spiritual Exercises which formed the basis of their spirituality. It was the expression of a life that wanted to seek and find and do the will of God in all things and found that will in the living out of the circumstances of their daily lives. It is summed up in the prayer:

Teach me, Lord, to be generous,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and seek no reward
except that of knowing that I do your holy will.

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