John Connelly


Fifth Sunday in Lent – March 22, 2015
Jeremiah 31.31-34 | Psalm 51 | Hebrews 5.7-9 | John 12.20-33
March 9, 2015

In this week's First Reading God gives insight into the call we all have. "I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts. . . . All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more."

God's desire for all of us is intimacy. He wants us to know him. Not just to have ideas about him but to live in daily intimate communion.

All over the world Catholics have left the faith. The Sienna Institute says about 90 per cent of us do not practise. Why do so many drift away?

I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. – Jeremiah 31.33

'I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.'

Jeremiah 31.33

Personally, I think it is more than just education. The human heart longs for intimacy. It longs to know and be known. It longs for transformation from the inside out.

In the Catholic tradition we have names for this intimacy. It is called the interior life, contemplation or prayer of the heart.

St. Teresa of Avila described this call to intimacy as an "interior castle" where Jesus can be known and fully experienced.

The call for all of us today is to become a people of deep, daily spiritual practice. It is not enough to go through the motions of our faith. Pope Francis says, "The Church urgently needs the deep breath of prayer."

This is a great image. It is as though many Catholics are starved of spiritual oxygen. Without oxygen we die. Without a deep life of prayer our faith withers. This is what is happening in our Church and our world.

We urgently need the "deep breath of prayer" because the forces arrayed against our spiritual life and practice are formidable. As an educator I often quote this passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

"The choice of the time and duration of the prayer arises from a determined will, revealing the secrets of the heart. One does not undertake contemplative prayer only when one has the time: one makes time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter.

"One cannot always meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work or emotional state. The heart is the place of this quest and encounter, in poverty and in faith" (2710).

A deep life of contemplation is not just for saints or people in monasteries; it is for each one of us. If we are beginning a deeper spiritual life then we begin. If we have been on the path for a while, we deepen our practice. Contemplation and spiritual practice are for everybody. It is how one knows the Lord intimately.

Lent calls us to renew and deepen our daily spiritual practice. In Lent, we examine our lives and ask how am I being called to deeper intimacy with Jesus?

Come Lord Jesus. Teach us to draw in the deep breath of prayer.