Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33
When we listen to the word of God regularly sometimes we may think, what would have been the situation f we were in the square listening to Jesus and how responsive we would have been unlike the crowd of those days. Or would we have missed the point since now we have the entire Bible with us and those people had only to listen to Jesus. We certainly feel that the purpose of Jesus’ death and resurrection was to make a positive change in the way people relate to God, to one another and to the creation. Has this event made a difference in our lives? This was the grain of wheat that fell on the fertile ground and produced multiple of fruits. In our life, each act of kindness towards a loved one or a stranger is a step in the right direction. Any act of solidarity on the part of individual or the community or the Government indicates the goodness and the truth in life. As we move forward on our Lenten journey we ask the grace from the Lord that we may profit highly from the message of the Gospel that we may be renewed and built in faith like the baptismal candidates. Jesus always expects us to respond.
The First Reading was taken from the Book of Jeremiah tells us of God’s promise of a New Covenant. We heard that God promised to write His laws in our hearts, that we will all know Him, that our sins would be forgiven and that our sins will never again be remembered by God. As Christians, we all know that the New Covenant of grace was instituted by Jesus at the Last Supper. But God says that he will write His laws in our hearts and that we will all know Him. Over and above the gift of a new heart, God promised to place within us a new human spirit. With the new heart and the new human spirit, we would become God’s people and He would be our God. This is the new agreement, the beautiful promise that God made with us as His people, that He would help us to become good by writing His laws in our hearts. Through this Divine manifestation, we as God’s people will always know what is right and wrong, what makes God happy or sad. God’s laws are always written in our hearts because, our Teacher, the Holy Spirit dwells within us. We have become living Temples of the Holy Spirit. As God’s children, when we were born again through faith in Jesus and the Sacrament of Baptism, our past sins were forgiven up until the moment that we received the Sacrament of our new birth.
Today’s Second Reading from the Letter to the Hebrews teaches us, through the example of our Lord Jesus, how we must respond to God’s calling that draws us to Him. The author says that in His human nature, Jesus learned obedience through what He suffered. Through suffering, Jesus was made perfect. Through perfection, He became the source of salvation for all who obey Him. From this perfect example of obedience and submission, we learn that through suffering, our souls are sanctified. When we endure hunger, we are spiritually enlightened to the needs of those who suffer hunger. From every form of suffering, there is a spiritual lesson to be learned. Suffering sanctifies the soul so it may become more in the likeness of Christ who is perfect.
In the Gospel we have the simple request of the Greeks t, who had come to Jerusalem and met Philip that they wanted to see Jesus. Jesus by then must have become very popular and all wanted to have a glimpse of him. We are not told if those Greeks ever did see Jesus but we do know that Jesus gave to his disciples a special teaching: “Unless a grain of wheat falls on the ground and dies, it remains a single grain; but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.” The grain, of course, does not actually die but it is totally transformed into something altogether new – roots, leaves and fruit. What Jesus wants to say is that exterior things do not matter and what is needed is the interior disposition of the person. We have Mathew, Zacchaeus, Peter and several others who finally become his followers.
Secondly, Jesus is speaking about his own death and resurrection through the symbolic words of dying and rising. He is the source of salvation for those who obey Him. We are called on to answer God’s call and to be drawn to the Lord. This is possible if we are able to rely on the spirit that opens our hearts to him. We must always be thankful to the Lord for what He sends us, trusting in His infinite grace to sanctify us through His Spirit. Therefore Jesus further adds to say: “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.” Jesus says is that only when we sacrifice all for his sake and keep him as our priority, only when we are ready to let go of ourselves totally of all we have and are in love and must be ready to serve others then only our spiritual desires will be fulfilled. It also means walking with Jesus and with Mary all the way to Calvary, wherever that happens to be for each of us.
To follow Jesus is not always easy. The human nature always seeks to avoid suffering. At the same time, our spiritual nature tells us to self-sacrifice ourselves for others. Both natures are constantly in conflict with one another. How I wish I could always do what I want to do instead of doing what I do not want to do! This is not easy but we need to remember that, in the words of the Letter to the Hebrews, Jesus was like us in every respect, except for sin. That is the reason why Jesus gives us the hope to say, “When I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all peoples to myself.” This ‘lifting up’ refers both to Jesus being raised on the cross and, simultaneously, to the glory of the Father. If we surrender ourselves totally to Jesus in this way, the same glory awaits us.
The word Draw has a special meaning to attract, pull and hold containing the warmth of giving. Jesus does just that attracting us to himself to share with us the divine life. So let us today learn to SEE Jesus, not in a superficial way but let us ask for the grace to penetrate the outer description to the deepest meaning within. And may what we see become our vision of life also. As a new creation of God, the convert who was baptised through faith in Christ, by the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit, is called to bear much fruit so his soul may shine as a light in the world. Before our eyes, we see the fulfillment of God drawing all the people to Himself as He promised He would do in the days of the Old Testament.
Fifth Sunday of Lent March 29, 2009
Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 5:7-9; John 12:20-33