March 18, 2018 — Fifth Sunday of Lent
JER 31: 31-34; PS 51: 3-4, 12-15; HEB 5: 7-9; JN 12: 20-33
Easter Sunday is but two weeks away (April 1). In our First Reading from the prophet Jeremiah, we hear God tell us, “I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” To affirm that forgiveness, St. Paul has this to say in the Second Reading: “He (Jesus) became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” There is a connection between these two statements which present forgiveness as the way to salvation.
The Lenten season is one of penance, reflection, prayer, almsgiving, and fasting, perhaps even in that order, so we can better prepare ourselves for Easter Sunday and beyond. Lent reminds us that God is gracious and merciful. God’s divine mercy is a central theme of Lent.
One might say that the priceless gift of God’s mercy is highlighted and celebrated in the Church in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession). That should be a key part of our Lenten journey. As mentioned only two weeks remain on that journey so getting to reconciliation is important if we have not done so already.
Sacramental confession allows God’s loving mercy and His grace-filled absolution to be confirmed to us through a priest. God sees us with love, mercy, and an abundance of forgiveness. Christ, through the priest, helps us to let go of anything that gets in the way of our relationship to God. St. Isidore wrote, “Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy.”