A HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT – CYCLE “B” – MARCH 22ND, 2015 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Like a lot of you, I come from a long line of people who liked to grow things. My grandmother liked to grow herbs: basil and rosemary, mint and oregano. My grandfather liked to grow roses, and had several award-winning rose bushes in his garden. My Dad liked to grow tomatoes, and planted them every year. And even though we were never farmers, we all learned how to grow the things that we liked. Most of us are not farmers. But almost all of us know what it is like to put a seed into the ground, cover it up with dirt, water it, and then wait until nature does its miracle. Growing pretty much of anything shows us the miracle of life. A tiny, little seed isn’t worth anything. It is dead. It is worthless. But add a little water and some fertile soil, and you can grow just about anything! Can you imagine how shocking this must have been for the cavemen, when they discovered it? The poor, little old seed gets destroyed in the process, but God can bring some pretty amazing things out of all different kinds of seeds! And that’s why today, Jesus uses the seed as a sign of hope.
We know that Jesus is right! When you put a seed into the ground, things don’t look very promising! It looks like a dead, dried up seed laying there in the dirt. Things look pretty bleak. You cover it up with dirt and you walk away. It’s not the very exciting part of the story! In fact, it looks like an end to the story, rather than the beginning of one. And yet, with just a little bit of time, you see that tiny plant break through the surface of the soil, and you know that something special, something much bigger is under way! This agricultural message of hope is one that Jesus used just days before He died. In just a few days, Jesus is going to be planted in the earth, following His death on the Cross. In preparation for what is coming, Jesus tells His followers that the seed must die, in order for good fruit to be produced. And He’s right, of course, we just forget how it looks at the very beginning.
What it looks like at the beginning is that it looks like dirt. It looks pretty hopeless. It looks like something is dying and nothing is happening. There’s a reason why this Gospel reading is one of the favorites at funerals. We get the message. Many, many times, we don’t know the whole story and we certainly don’t see how things are going to work out. There are many times in all of our lives, where things can look pretty bleak, pretty bad! When we have hard times in our marriages, when we lose our job or have mess at work, when our children make wrong decisions and get in trouble, when someone we love is seriously sick, when someone we love dies, all of these times and so many more are all times when we feel like that dead seed in the ground, when we have no idea of the incredible things that God has in store, right around the corner! This Gospel, my brothers and sisters, brings us a message of Hope. God is in control!
But this also means that there will be times when it will look as though evil has won. Think of how it must have looked on that first Good Friday afternoon! It looked like the story was over and all was lost. And yet, they had no idea of what God had planned for just three days later! I read once that this is where we get the tradition of April Fool’s Day, and playing tricks on one another. When Jesus rose from the dead, the devil, who had thought that he had gotten rid of Jesus once and for all, was made to look like a fool. God took the devil’s victory on Good Friday afternoon, and turned it into his ultimate defeat on Easter Sunday morning. God played the ultimate April Fool’s joke on the devil. Whoops! So you thought that you won! How many times do we look around the world today and think that evil has won? I’d bet that we do it a whole lot more than we’d like to admit! Evil’s victories seem to be everywhere today. We can’t get pulled into those lies!
We need to remember and keep in mind this powerful lesson. Evil will not triumph! Jesus will win in the end. And we need to keep this optimism in trying and difficult times. May we always know that Jesus is our hope and our life! And may we always look beyond whatever we are going through in this life, to mystery and the glory of the Resurrection!
+ May God bless all of us this day, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us!!!