Lubem, [21 Mar 2021 at 6:38:10 am]:
Homily for V (5) Sunday of Lent Year B. 21-03-2021 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm: Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15
Second Reading: Hebrews 5:7-9
Gospel: John 12:20-33
God is a covenant-maker who draws us to Himself in a bond of peace and friendship. He does this to bring us into an inseparable bond of love and unity with Himself through covenants. From the beginning, God has always made these covenants with His people. And even when Israel as a nation was taken captive in Egypt, God established a covenant with them once again when He freed them from slavery in Egypt and brought them to His holy mountain at Sinai and said, “I will be your God, and you will be my people” (Exodus 6:7, Leviticus 26:12). But His people time and again broke covenant with Him and did not follow His ways (Jeremiah 31:32) – “each did what was right in his or her own eyes” (Judges 17:26 and 21:25), as many of us do even today. God, nonetheless, continues to send prophets to draw His people back to Himself. This is what the prophet Jeremiah does today too in our first reading, which in so many important ways, can be considered the climax of the Old Testament. He brings a prophecy of hope, of a new covenant different from those of old, which the Lord shall make with His unfaithful people. Paradoxically too, it is this new covenant inscribing God’s Law of love on the hearts of everyone, that signals the great moment of advance elevating the religion of Israel to the plinth of the world religion by which everyone could benefit from the salvation promised to Abraham. Today we as beneficiaries in the covenant are reminded that this new covenant will be fulfilled by God Himself in His Son Jesus Christ; ‘the covenant in my blood for the forgiveness of Sin,’ as He said at the Last Supper. This covenant becomes ratified in His blood shed for us during ‘the Hour’ on the Cross of Calvary. How we should value the sacrifice of Christ for our sake by doing God’s will in our lives all the time instead of what the world chooses for us. Are you obeying God or the world?
Jesus says ‘The Hour’ has come. What hour? It is the hour of accomplishment of His mission. This is the hour of glory signifying the victory of good over evil and sin, the triumph of life over death. But this hour of victory begins with defeat. Jesus calls Himself the Son of Man, which is a prophetic title for the Messiah as recorded in the book of Daniel. However, this Messiah is just about to undergo another moment of passion and temptation like the agony in the garden of Gethsemane, where He confronts the reality of His imminent suffering and death which is but to set us free from the tyranny of endless slavery to sin, satan and death. And willingly He accepts this path. His mission is not limited to setting us free from oppressive temporal rule but the spiritual dominion of sin and evil, so that He can bring us into a new covenantal relationship with God leading us to eternal life. His life becomes like that grain of wheat that falls on the ground and dies to yield a rich harvest in us, because it is by His death and resurrection that we become the sons and daughters of God and are saved. There is no greater love than this, Christ laying down His life for our sakes so that we can be re-united with God and made capable of everlasting life in heaven. What a love! What can we do for Him in appreciation?
The obedience and death of Jesus on the cross which He willingly chooses, obtains for us freedom and new life in the Holy Spirit free of charge. So, we cannot pay Him not just because it is a gratuitous and selfless act but more importantly because it is a priceless gift that is unaffordable by a weak humanity such as us. What He asks of us in return is still for our own good. That is, to follow Him who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, in perfect Love and in readiness like Him to lay down our lives in sacrificial service for the good of others. Are you ready for this? How selfless are you? When last did you do someone favour without expecting something in return? It begins with putting to death our old self enslaved by sin to be buried with Christ so we may rise to new life with Christ at Easter as symbolized in the ritual cleansing waters of baptism. Are you baptized? Then try and get baptized.
This baptismal ritual is a one-time event which occurs at the beginning of our journey of faith, and it is also a daily on-going cycle of growth in which the Holy Spirit buries us more deeply into Jesus’ death so we might rise anew in the power of God’s love, righteousness (moral goodness), and holiness. Certainly, it means I must everyday “put to death” within me whatever is contrary to God’s will. Without this my baptism is not fruitful. This is the only way death leads to life when we die to ourselves and sinful natures so that we can receive God’s forgiveness and the life changing power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to live as true sons and daughters of God.
What are those areas of your life that are contrary to God’s will? Do you think like God, speak like God, and act like God in the circumstances you find yourself? If you continue living your life as you are currently, where do you think you will end up? Remember, as Christ says, ‘…it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell’ (Matthew 18:9). So, you need to cut-off whatever stands between you and God so that you do not miss the mark…sin actually means, to miss the mark. Lent is that opportunity to come back to God so that we do not miss the mark. How have you made use of this Lent to remain on course? To remain on course without drifting requires us as sons and daughters of God to daily say yes to God and no to satan and sin in our thoughts, words, actions and inactions. Can you say you are such a son or daughter of God? What fruits does your Christian life bear? Where do you think you will be at the end of this Lenten season? With Jesus or against Jesus? Remember, Christ has promised that we will bear much “fruit” for Him, if we choose to deny ourselves for His sake and embrace His will for our lives. And this is when He will draw us all to Himself at the end of time as He is lifted up from the earth, giving us eternal life. May the Lord give us the courage and faith to die to ourselves in imitation of Him in order to give life to people around us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.