Homily Fifth Sunday of Lent Year B Our covenant with God

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Homily Fifth Sunday of Lent Year B


Reading 1: The theme of Covenant continues I n the first reading of each Sunday in Lent. First Sunday, we heard the covenant God made with Noah and the sign was the rainbow. Second Sunday, it was the covenant with Abraham and the sin was circumcision and the need to trust in the Lord. Third Sunday, it was the covenant with Moses and the Israelites and the sign was obedience to the Ten Commandments. Fourth Sunday, because the Chosen People continually broke the covenant, adding infidelity to infidelity, they experienced exile from the Promised Land for seventy years. A savior, Cyrus, would restore them to the land so they could rebuild the destroyed Temple.


Today, Jeremiah prophecies that God will make a new and final covenant, a covenant of the heart, a covenant of love. The Law of the Mosaic Covenant was external relationship with God. The Law of the New Covenant will be internalized, written on their hearts.  The sign of this New Covenant was the forgiveness of sins. God no longer remembering them. The response to God’s faithful love is to love in return, not out of obligation or just externally but by living in a right relationship that brings intimacy and union with God.


That prophesy of Jeremiah was fulfilled at the Last Supper and on the Cross. Do we not hear this promised renewed when the chalice of wine in consecrated? “The is the Blood of the New and eternal Covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”


We personally entered into that covenant the day we were baptized. We experience the grace of our covenant when we celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where the words of God are fulfilled: “I will forgive their evil doings and remember their sins no more.” We renew our covenant each time we celebrate Eucharist, as we do today.


Gospel: The focus of the First Sunday of Lent was the Temptations Jesus experienced at the beginning of his ministry. The Second Sunday, we reflected on the scene of the Transfiguration. The Third Sunday, it was the cleansing of the Temple by Jesus. Last Sunday, we heard that as Moses was lifted up, so the Son of Man will draw all to himself when he is lifted up.


Today, Jesus returns to that reality. “Once I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to myself.” His focus is on the central theme of our Lenten journey, the death and resurrection of Jesus as Lord and Savior. He came to the earth to bring humanity back to God.


Last Sunday, the theme of the Gospel was faith in Jesus leads to salvation and eternal life. Even the beginning statement of Jesus points to his upcoming suffering and death. “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it does not bear much fruit.”


The salvation Jesus brings about requires a response from us. That response is to follow him as a disciple in the service of others. How? We do this by laying down our life for others, by surrendering it to Jesus, so that others may see the power of selfless love.


Reading 2: Each of the second readings in the past four Sundays has focused us on Jesus’ death and resurrection. First Sunday, we have been saved in the waters of baptism. The Second Sunday, we saw that even though God spared Abraham’s son, he did not spare his own Son but handed him over to death because of his great love for us. The Third Sunday, Jesus’ death and resurrection seem like foolishness to the Jews and weakness to the Greeks, but in truth they show the strength and power of God. Last Sunday, we heard that God, rich in mercy, saved us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.


Today, we heard that Jesus out of love for us and the Father gave his life for ours. In his humanity he cried to the Father to spare him, but at the same time out of love and obedience he embraced the wood of the cross to be an example to us. In our trials we cry out to the Lord, but in obedience we are called to embrace them so that through them we can be perfected and brought into the full life of God.

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