A HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT – CYCLE “B” – 3/18/18 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
It all starts out for us today with the arrival of these Greek folks. They had come to Jerusalem to pray for the Passover Feast. And the Greeks are beautiful people. Were they wearing the brightly-colored traditional clothing? Did they bring with them olives, and pita, and baklava, and other delicious Greek delicacies? Did they intend to dance at the Passover Festival, like Anthony Quinn did, in that movie, Zorba, the Greek? We don’t know a lot about these Greeks, but the Gospel does tell us that they come to the Apostles, and they want to see Jesus. And the arrival of these Greeks, seems to be the indicator for Jesus that His hour has come. Throughout St. John’s Gospel, there’s a running thread that Jesus’s hour is not yet here. It is not yet time. Jesus says several times. And yet today, all that changes. Now is the time. The new covenant between God and His people is about to be made.
In the Old Testament, almost all of the covenants between God and His people were sealed in blood. God and mankind make a covenant, and some animal has to die. I’m sure the people from PETA love the Old Testament! But in the New Testament, this changes. Instead of bulls, or goats, or rams or turtledoves, Jesus becomes the new sacrifice of the new covenant! And while this might at first sound a whole lot easier and maybe even nicer than all the dead animals, this time a God/man is going to die. And just like in the Old Testament, there’s going to be plenty of blood involved. And so Jesus has a pretty good idea of what’s coming. He is aware and He says. “Unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of what; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”
And then, just like at Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River, and just like on top of Mt. Tabor at the Transfiguration, once again, for the third time, there’s this voice that comes from Heaven. “I have glorified it”, the name of God that is, that is what the Father and the Son are talking about, and then goes on to say, “And I will glorify it again.” The voice was so loud and powerful, that the crowd who also heard it, thought that it was thunder. The set-up is complete for next weekend and Palm Sunday. The new covenant is about to be established.
As Catholic Christians, we get to enter into that new covenant every time we come to Mass. In the fullness of Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, given to us in the Holy Eucharist, God shares His life with us, and offers us the opportunity to respond. And so we do! We receive the Body of Christ from the table of the Lord. We receive the Blood of Christ from a chalice, given to us by a priest, or deacon, or extraordinary minister. And every time we do, God’s covenant with us is re-upped and renewed! Jesus died for this to happen! We don’t want to ever forget that. This sacrifice that that we are about to share, is only possible because two-thousand years ago, a God/ a man, Who loved us very much, allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross for our sake, in our place. It was for our sins that He died. This Sacrifice is at the very core of what the Mass is! It is what the Mass is all about! Think about that the next time you are tempted to NOT come to Mass. Jesus died for the Mass to happen. All you have to do is show
up and do your part in the prayers we pray! Without the real Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Mass would be nothing more than an empty ritual. Instead, every week, or even every day, we are invited to share in a special joining of Heaven and earth. It is the union of God’s divine life and our human life. It is the mystery of the Incarnation played out all over again, just as it was inside of Mary’s body.
Our covenant with God is alive and well. And it is renewed each time we come to Mass. Let us take seriously our commitment to Him. It is a commitment not just based in obedience, as we heard in Hebrews today. But it is a covenant based much more in a relationship of love, where we are to know God not just with our minds, but more importantly, with our hearts.
As we prepare for these final weeks and days of Lent, let us do well to remember our covenant with God. In these holy days He is drawing us, all of us, closer and closer to Himself. May we be immersed in His love and peace during these holy days. And may die to ourselves so that we can bring that love and peace to our world today!
+ May God bless us and help us to stay true to our part of the covenant, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!