Fifth Sunday of Lent
We are now at the fifth Sunday in our Lenten preparation. The focus of the readings turns
our attention from the rules we read about during the third week to a new covenant, a new relationship between God and all of us. Jeremiah tells us of God’s intention to enter our very hearts, the center of our life. The psalm asks for a “clean heart” so that we are ready to receive the joy of salvation. Hebrews tells us that Jesus too prayed, was made perfect, and became the source of eternal salvation. In John, Jesus explains the contradiction that this new relationship involves: death becomes life. God gives everything to us, including forgiveness. God holds back nothing from us, giving us even the beloved Son, Jesus.
WRITTEN IN STONE
The rules written on the stone tablets given to Moses are easy to remember, if not so easy to follow. Today we learn that the rules are no longer outside ourselves but that God has written them on our hearts. God says, “I will be their God and they shall be my people.” We are now bound in a relationship with God and are not just following God’s rules. The model for the relationship is Jesus. Jesus, Son though he was, was made perfect through his suffering and became the source of salvation for all of us, who are far less than perfect. Jesus describes this relationship as a grain of wheat, whole unto itself, that falls into the embrace of the earth and is broken in order to produce the life-sustaining wheat.
WRITTEN IN FLESH
When the rules are written on our hearts, we must look within to measure ourselves, to discover what God expects of us. We are not servants. We are God’s people. We are not strangers or foreigners. We are God’s people. This kind of relationship, like a deep friendship, a marriage, or parent and child, requires a whole-hearted commitment, a willingness to put the lives of others before our own. We share with Jesus such a relationship, a deep longing for God so that our lives have a meaning beyond their measure. Each of our lives is more than a series of experiences, events, accomplishments. Each of our lives embodies in our flesh the work of God that we see incarnated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This relationship expects more of us than rules. This relationship gives us more than rules. This relationship asks for our life and in return gives us eternal life and salvation.
Today’s Readings: Jer 31:31–34; Ps 51:3–4, 12–13, 14–15; Heb 5:7–9; Jn 12:20–33