HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: Humility and obedience; the keys to enter into the Paschal Mysteries of Christ.
BY: Fr Cyril Unachkwu CCE
How useless a grain of seed is when it stands alone! Its usefulness comes when it is lowered to the ground and from there germinates and brings forth countless number of grains. How restless the soul can be when the human will is in dissonance from the Will of God! When the human will is in accord with the Will of God, one enjoys the greatest inner peace. Humility and obedience are the keys to enter into the Paschal Mysteries of Christ. May our practice of the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving help us to grow in these virtues; Amen.
The readings are gradually focusing our attention to the climax of the Lenten Season, which culminates at the Triduum and subsequently at the Paschal Feasts of the resurrection of the Lord. The Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the death are the seal of the ever new and eternal Covenant made by God with us. This Covenant didn’t just fell from the blues! It is a Covenant with a long history of preparation part of which includes the repeated story of our infidelity to the terms of the previous covenants God entered with us. In the words of the prophecy of Jeremiah (31:31-34) in the First Reading, “the days are coming; it is the Lord who speaks, when I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah.” This prophecy of Jeremiah was an invitation from God to the people of Israel to key into His plan to bring them once again in a New and Everlasting Covenant into communion with Him.
This New and Everlasting Covenant was instituted in the person and mission of Christ. In the Gospel Reading (Jn 12:20-30) we see Jesus Christ in the imminent moments of His journey towards Calvary to embrace the cross on which this covenantal sacrifice was to be made. In the response of Jesus to Andrew and Philip, He drew their attention to the two central virtues guiding Him on this unique mission, namely humility and obedience. These two virtues go hand in glove, for it takes a humble disposition to be obedient. By His words, “unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies”, Jesus reminds us that irrespective of how beautiful a grain of seed may look on its own, it remains useless. It takes the fertility of the ground to bring out the best hidden within it. As the ground is bigger than the grain, even so much more is God bigger than us. Humility involves our recognition of the fact that without God we are empty and as useless and isolated as a single grain of seed above the ground. Further still, by His words “but it was for this very reason that I have come to this hour” our Lord indicates the second virtue guiding Him through this mission which is that of obedience. Obedience involves our ability to conform our wills to what God wills! Obedience is the path of true self-realization; for in abandoning the self to the One Who willed her existence, the self true realizes the purpose for which it was created. It is from this background that we can understand the hymn known as ‘the kenosis of Christ’ in Phil 2:1-11.
The humility and obedience of Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of His glory in the new and everlasting Covenant established in His blood for “being found in human form He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross, therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.” The fruit of the Christocentric Mission is the establishment of the new and everlasting Covenant on the Cross. The Second Reading (Heb 5:7-9) extols these virtues in Christ and reminds us that it is only through our imitation of these virtues as practiced by Christ can we access the eternal salvation that has its source in Him. To benefit from the fruits of this Covenant one must be guided by the virtues of humility and obedience as the required garments.
May the grace of God, enriching us in the virtues of humility and obedience, make us stable sons and daughters of the New and Everlasting Covenant in His blood; Amen. Happy Sunday;
-Fr Cyril Unachkwu CCE