“You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me” (John 7:28–29). These words are from today’s Gospel of John, as Jesus, threatened by his enemies, nevertheless comes to the Temple in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. He begins to teach openly about who he is. His words challenge those who would claim intimacy with God but are in fact far from it.
In this second part of Lent, we focus more sharply on who Jesus is and how his identity and mission clash with the world. This conflict will surface in passages from John over the next weeks. St. Ignatius of Loyola was no stranger to conflict. He was a soldier, wounded in battle.
During his recovery he began to read about the lives of Christ and the saints. His conversion began in a personal faith struggle that tested his growing intimacy with God. From that struggle, he wrote his classic Spiritual Exercises, which seekers and believers use to this day. From the crucible of his own spiritual conflict came his vocation: He and six companions began the Society of Jesus in 1534. Tested over time, the Jesuit charism remains today true to the obedience and loyalty to the church that soldier Ignatius rooted in the Society. From it, we can draw inspiration in our lenten effort to better know who Jesus is, where he came from, and what his mission is.