HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: GOD IS SPEAKING TO US
BY: Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
This Sunday the readings focus us on the life and death of Jesus and the Old Testament passages that help us understand the life and death of the Lord. It is really important for us to recognize that without the Old Testament, the Jewish Scriptures, it would be very difficult for us—perhaps even impossible— to understand Jesus and His life and death.
The first reading today is from the Prophet Jeremiah. This Prophet is clear that the relationship of God with His people has been difficult and that the previous Covenants have been broken and that there is a need for a New Covenant that will last forever. The Prophet Jeremiah shows us a God who is always seeking us out, who is willing to start a New Covenant with us, who always wants to love us. And so we hear in this reading today: “All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.”
What a wonderful God we have. This God was known and loved by the Prophet Jeremiah and we are invited to know and love this same God, who loves us and who always forgives us—and forgets our sins!
The second reading comes from the Letter to the Hebrews. This letter is used more and more during the time we come close to Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The letter speaks so clearly of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
God has taken on our flesh and our human weakness even though God in Christ never sins. God in Christ knows our sinful nature and truly suffers. The carrying of the Cross and the death on the Cross are real and unite Jesus to us in a way that is unimaginable for God to share in our lives. Yet God chooses this way to draw us to Himself. We are invited to learn obedience to the will of the Father, even though we know that in the process of obedience, we also shall suffer.
The Gospel from Saint John today includes a short passage in which the divine breaks through into the ordinary life once again. When we hear a voice from heaven in the Gospels, then we know that the divine is breaking into the ordinary. Jesus says: “Father, glorify your name.” The Voice from Heaven says: “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The challenge in this last part of Lent is to LISTEN to the Lord, to the whole of the Old Testament and to the Church. God is speaking to us. Will we answer? Will we give our lives in obedience to the Lord Jesus—always with love and joy?
Fr. Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB Christ in the Desert Monastery, Abiquiu, New Mexico