March 22, 2015 – Fifth Sunday of Lent
Easter is two weeks from this Fifth Sunday of Lent. Our readings for today reflect that, and our own life efforts need to reflect that, as well. Whether we have fully utilized this Lenten journey or whether we have let it pass us by, it is not too late to make this a time which is memorable in our lives, and significant in our faith journeys.
Our first reading is from the Book of Jeremiah. Historically, Jeremiah was writing during the final years of Israel before their defeat by the Babylonians, and then the beginning years of the exile to Babylon. In today’s reading Jeremiah speaks of the covenant with God, the covenant between God and His people. It is important for us to realize that this is a two way covenant — God’s promise to us, but also our willingness to love God and to serve Him. Throughout Lent we have been called to examine our own covenant with the Lord, our own faith and our readiness to serve God and others. Jeremiah speaks of a “new covenant.” It is time for us to embrace and work at our own new covenant with God.
In the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews Paul refers to obeying and obedience. This can be a challenge for us in our own lives. It is more than just understanding what obedience is, how to obey; the secret is to learn what is involved in living lives of obedience. Jesus was God; yet He obeyed. It was His obedience to subjecting Himself to death on the Cross which provides us with our salvation. That is an essential part of our Lenten journeys — to come to grips with the Lord’s love for us, and to find ways to respond in gratitude to that love. All who “obey the Lord” can find the way to eternal salvation. Although Lent draws to a close in less than two weeks, we can make our new covenant with God and pledge our obedience to Him.
John’s Gospel speaks of Greeks who seek Jesus. We must remember that the Greeks were Gentiles. Previously, Jesus has told His followers and others that the time was not right. Yet, here, when Gentiles approach Him, He declares, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” We have been pilgrims journeying toward Easter over the past few weeks. Jesus points out to us that we are not just pilgrims at this time (Lent), but our entire lives are pilgrimages toward salvation and eternal life. He shows us the way. He calls us to conversion, “…unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat.” This new birth and new life comes to fruition for us at Easter. In the meantime, however, in these final days of Lent, we must renew and rededicate ourselves to the faith and lives to which we are called by our Lord. Just as Easter is a new beginning, so is every single day. St. Francis de Sales said, “It is right that you should begin again every day. There is no better way to complete the spiritual life than to be ever beginning it over again.”