"Inspectio Cordis": Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 17

This covenant is not something now in the past, but rather, the present reality which we enter at each Eucharist. Jesus writes His law upon our hearts because He literally enters our bodies. He is our God, and we are His People, made so at each Sunday Mass. Our challenge is to live in this covenant throughout our week.

By Fr. Thaddaeus Lancton, MIC

A gaze of the heart. Examining the depth of one’s heart.

There is no one way to translate the Latin title Inspectio Cordis, given to the collection of meditations for Sundays by the Founder of the Marians, St. Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701).

These meditations, published weekly on Fridays in preparation for the Sunday Mass, follow the style and purpose of our holy Father Founder. While his original text is worth reading, his examples and style can feel outdated to the modern reader. As his spiritual son, I will attempt my best to imitate his style and imitate his ministry of preaching to hearts.

The goal is to allow Jesus to gaze into your heart and teach you self-examination, leading you to a more fruitful reception of Holy Communion, where there is a true encounter of our hearts with His Sacred Heart – especially fitting during this period of National Eucharistic Revival.


Fifth Sunday of Lent – Cycle B
March 17, 2024

Before Holy Communion

1. “The days are coming…”
As Catholics, we focus upon preparation for Mass and the reception of Holy Communion. But we sometimes forget the long preparation – over centuries – that prepared for the Eucharist. What Jeremiah here prophesied as a yet future event, for us is present in each Sunday liturgy. We can forget the privileged position we have, living in the time of fulfillment, when so many – as Jesus stated – longed to see what we see, to hear what we hear, and to receive what we receive.

We may take for granted the ability to freely participate in Mass, in a world where there is much persecution of Christians. But the Father has chosen you to be born in this time, in this place, to enter covenant with Him through Jesus Christ. The days that were coming are now here. Such gratitude is the best manner to prepare for the Sunday Eucharist.

How can you give thanks to the Father for having chosen you to be a Christian?

2. “But this is the covenant…”
When the priest recites the words of institution over the chalice, he refers to this new covenant announced by Jeremiah. “This is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant.” This new covenant was inaugurated once for all through Jesus’ death upon the Cross, and yet, it is realized or made present and effective at each Mass.

This covenant is not something now in the past, but rather, the present reality which we enter at each Eucharist. Jesus writes His law upon our hearts because He literally enters our bodies. He is our God, and we are His People, made so at each Sunday Mass. Our challenge is to live in this covenant throughout our week.

How is the covenant in Jesus’ Blood a lived reality for you? What does it mean that He is your God and you are part of His People?

3. “For they broke my covenant…”
Despite these privileges, we – like the Israelites– break our covenant with God. Despite being elected to be peculiarly His own, we follow not His law but our own designs. But, if like David, we beseech His mercy, asking for a clean heart, then God indeed offers us His forgiveness for our evildoing. The new covenant offers definitive forgiveness of sins for the Holy Spirit transforms us from our hearts.

For this reason, the Sacrament of Confession is essential to the new covenant: without frequent use of reconciliation, we will not “know the Lord” as Jeremiah promises. For such intimate knowledge flows from the experience of His mercy that remembers our sins no more.

Where do you find yourself breaking your covenant with Jesus? How can you avail yourself of Confession and so ‘know the Lord’ from the heart?

After Holy Communion

1. “He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears…”
How often we turn to the Father in urgent supplication, beseeching Him to save us from suffering. But, like Jesus, we may not experience His love in the form of a rescue from what assails us. Jesus was not saved from death but through it. Similarly, the Father responds to us by leading us through darkness into His light. But our prayer, like that of Jesus, ought to be that of trust and obedient surrender to the Father, rather than fighting against Him or His will. “He was heard because of his reverence.” The Father hears our prayers, but He asks for such reverence that expresses itself in obedience to His Son which leads to eternal salvation. Just as we say ‘amen’ to Holy Communion, so we are to live that ‘amen’ through obedience in our daily lives.

How do you pray in time of need? How do you know that you are heard?

2. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
We may presume that this hour of glorification is the Resurrection, but Jesus is here referring to His crucifixion. For He speaks of the grain of wheat dying and of losing one’s life. But what glory is there in such a horrendous death? Jesus’ glory is in His self-giving love, which expresses itself even amid the darkness of the Cross. Similarly, when Jesus wants to glorify you, He offers you crosses, pains, and sufferings, to teach you to love as He does.

While we easily say ‘amen’ to receive Jesus in the Host, we may hesitate to recognize Jesus when He comes in our daily lives, burdened with a Cross. Yet, the same Jesus is present, who in a hidden way wants to lead us to the glory of Heaven.

How does Jesus come to you bearing His Cross? Where do you find your glory – in your reputation, wealth, career, status, etc., or in self-giving love?

3. “I will draw everyone to myself.”
The mystery of the Cross is that it both repulses and attracts us. We are unwilling to bear such a heavy burden like Christ, and so we want to escape the Cross. Yet, we are drawn by Him, by His self-giving, life-giving love poured forth from His pierced side. Just as He draws everyone to Himself at Calvary, so He draws us to Himself at each Holy Communion. But He continues – each day – to draw us closer to Himself on the Cross, to draw us to Himself in Heaven.

But in each of us, there is the struggle: will we be repulsed and run away, or will we surrender in obedient faith and be drawn to Him? If we, too, desire to see Jesus, then we must see in our brothers and sisters a hidden Christ, who begs for our love, drawing us to Himself.

How do you experience Jesus drawing you to Himself upon the Cross? How do you learn to love Him in your brothers and sisters, so as to love as He does?

Next week: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion
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BELH

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