Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year B

Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent, Year B

Mar 19, 2024 | Reflections

We are only a week away from Palm Sunday and the last two Sundays spoke of Jesus’ forthcoming Passion and Death. This Sunday Jesus speaks of this Himself.

Jeremiah in the First Reading, was called to be a prophet at the early age of 23. He spoke the word of God in Jerusalem during the most critical period of Judah’s history (627-587). Abuses in the Temple and in Jerusalem had reached an alarming point. The prophet spoke out fearlessly against the sins and infidelity of the Chosen People and warned of the destruction the city and the Temple and the long Babylonian exile. In today’s reading, Jeremiah foretells the setting up of a New Eternal Covenant, to replace the Old Covenant made on Mount Sinai, a covenant which the Jews had not kept. The New Covenant would not be written on stone tablets, but on each person’s heart. Associated with the New Covenant would be forgiveness of sins.

The second reading from the Hebrews sets before us the inspiring perfect obedience of Christ, the Son of God, who was completely submissive in His human nature to the Divine Will. As sincere Christians we must be ready to suffer torture and crucifixion, if called on for the sake of Christ. We could ask ourselves whether we are on the rough road of true obedience, of have we sought the smoother path of giving in to our weaknesses? Lent is the time to correct our course if we have strayed.

The New Covenant is written on our Hearts

In Sunday’s Gospel Jesus says: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single grain, but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest. When a farmer sows a crop, it yields a harvest. Jesus is the grain of wheat who died to harvest us for His Kingdom. His life was poured out, so that we could be part of His harvest. He shed His blood for the New Covenant, as prophesied by Jeremiah.

This New Covenant is written on our hearts, not on stone tablets, like the Old Covenant. In Baptism we have received sanctifying grace through the Holy Spirit, and we know the Lord through faith. In Baptism God has come to dwell in us through sanctifying grace and each time we receive the sacraments we grow in grace in accordance with our dispositions. But if we commit serious (mortal) sin, we lose sanctifying grace in our souls. We are no longer in the state of grace. But when we repent and go to Sacramental Confession, the grace lost through mortal sin is restored. Everything that God asks of us in life comes from His love for us. We should never see our duties in life as meaningless, but instead by fulfilling them well out of love for God, they become a path to holiness. When we experience the love of God, our duties can turn into an exciting adventure. All the saints and martyrs experienced this.

Sundays’ readings remind me of the story of a woman who was married to a man, she did not love. He made her get up at 5am in the morning and serve him a cooked breakfast at 6am sharp. He made her wait on him and was exacting in all his demands on her time. Her life was made miserable trying to satisfy the requests of her husband. Finally, he died. After a few years she married again. This time though she married a man whom she really loved.  One day, while cleaning out some old papers, she came across the strict set of rules her former husband had written out for her to obey. Carefully she read them over: Get up at 5am, serve breakfast at 6am sharp and so on.  It suddenly dawned on her that she was still fulfilling every single one of those demands, but this time it wasn’t difficult or a burden because she was doing it for love’s sake.

The saints and martyrs lived and died for love’s sake. It was the love of God which spurred them on. St Therese of Lisieux found her elevator to holiness, by doing every single thing out of love for God. In spite of dying at only 24, she is now a great Saint and Doctor of the Church. Let’s practice her Little Way of love and do everything for Jesus. Even more so, desire that His Will reign in you and imagine that you are simply accompanying Him as He does everything through you. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ and may Your Holy Will come and reign upon the earth!