March 18, 2018 Fifth Sunday of Lent Fr Jim Miller

Fifth Sunday of Lent
Reading 1 JER 31:31-34

Responsorial Psalm PS 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15.

  1. (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Reading 2 HEB 5:7-9

Verse Before The Gospel JN 12:26

Gospel JN 12:20-33

Homily—March 17 & 18, 2018  Fifth Sunday of Lent

This reading from Jeremiah is one of my favorites as the Lord promises a new covenant with the house of Israel.  “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord.” Just imagine if everyone had a rightly formed conscience so that they knew what God wanted them to do just by reflecting on their hearts!   And everyone would have the capacity to know the Lord—if only we did this we would not have to have any classes in the faith—no RCIA, no religious education, no Bible study, no homilies etc.! But I find people still have to be taught about Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him and even I continue to study and learn how to have a better relationship with God and people.   I certainly appreciate hearing the Lord will forgive our evildoing and not remember our sins. That is an ongoing promise. In an imperfect world, sin will be recognized for what it is: an aberration, an abnormal, subhuman way of behaving which will never become the world’s permanent condition. Don’t you find that sin just pulls you down to be less than you can be? I have to keep going back and asking forgiveness every once in a while so I can start out again with my soul pure through absolution.

This is God’s unilateral promise.  The core of this new covenant has nothing to do with our worthiness or good behavior, but rather God’s unrelenting love and will to save us.  This means that there is nothing we can do to turn God against us. Our God will always and forever be God for us.

In today’s gospel two Greeks approach not Jesus but Philip, which, by the way is a Greek name.  Up to this point in Jesus’ ministry according to the Gospel of John, Jesus has never, not once, interacted with a Gentile.  

Philip listens to the request of these two Greeks who want to see Jesus and, in turn, goes to Andrew (another Greek name!) to enlist his help with this unorthodox request.  Together the disciples intercede for the Greeks. Jesus rightly perceived this to be the conclusion of his ministry. If even the Greeks (that is, Gentiles) are now coming to see him, the end is near.   Jesus then begins an eloquent teaching on the necessity of death for bearing fruit, and no mention is made that the Greeks ever met Jesus.

Jesus knows he is the long-awaited savior bringing salvation to the whole world.  While knowing these consequences for God’s creation, Jesus also knows the consequences for himself.  Yet he chooses this pathway, the pain and the glory, because he loves his Father, and he loves God’s creation.

 

 

 

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Reading 1 JER 31:31-34

Responsorial Psalm PS 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15.

  1. (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Reading 2 HEB 5:7-9

Verse Before The Gospel JN 12:26

Gospel JN 12:20-33

Lent is set aside for Christians to fathom this choice.  The God-man, Jesus Christ, understanding every detail, chooses to do it anyway.  Lent replays Christ’s heroic crucifixion as an action freely and generously done for the world’s salvation and invites believers to embrace it.

We might find it difficult to focus on death.   Sometimes it comes suddenly in an accident like the pedestrian bridge that fell at the Florida University.   Sometimes it comes more slowly but with time to prepare as the two funerals this week of Dick Kirmse and Don Hesselman both of whom were in hospice and both of whom I was able to anoint before their death, one two days before his death and the other eleven days before his death.

Pope Francis reflected on death during his general audience in Rome in 2013.   He said, “Death affects us all, and it questions us in a profound way. . . If is is understood as the end of everything, death. . .terrifies us, it becomes a threat that shatters every dream, every promise, it severs every relationship.”

In October 2017, Francis again spoke about death and said, “We are all small and helpless before the mystery of death.”  We can be encouraged by the fact that even Jesus quailed when he realized his hour had come. As the Letter to the Hebrews says, our high priest knows our weakness and he too prayed with supplication, cries and tears.  Nevertheless, he led the way for us in saying, “For this purpose I came to this hour.”

When Jesus chose to walk into what he knew was his final hour, he did so fully aware of the cost and his purpose:  “Now is the time of judgment . . . now the ruler of this world will be driven out.” Only by going through his death would Jesus demonstrate that God’s love overcomes every evil.  That was the purpose of his life and his glory.

Now and again, we all need to confront the fact that we will die; knowing that leads us to evaluate our purpose and the worth of each day.  Blessed are we when we believe what Francis said of the moment of our death: “There hope will end and it will be a reality, the reality of life.”