Today we remember in prayer the soul of the Benedictine Archbishop Bernard Ullathorne, first Bishop of Birmingham, who died on this day in 1889. Normally it is also the feast of the Passing of our Holy Father St Benedict, but this is being transferred to tomorrow this year.

Here is part of our Gospel reading for today, from St John: Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew went with Philip and they told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if anyone serves me, the Father will honour him. Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify thy name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”’

St Augustine commented: ‘And there were certain Gentiles among them that had come up to worship at the feast: the same came therefore to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. Philip comes and tells Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. Let us hearken to the Lord’s reply. … Here, then, were they of the circumcision and they of the uncircumcision, like two house walls running from different directions and meeting together with the kiss of peace, in the one faith of Christ. Let us listen, then, to the voice of the Cornerstone: And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour has come that the Son of man should be glorified. … To this it is that the prediction pointed, Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Your glory above all the earth. … But the height of His glorification had to be preceded by the depth of His passion. Accordingly, He went on to add, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone; but if it die, it brings forth much fruit. But He spoke of Himself. He Himself was the grain that had to die, and be multiplied’.

As we turn to look towards the Passion, with all the restrictions once more laid upon us this year, we pray for the grace to unite our own sufferings with those of the Lord. May He bless you abundantly this day.