Fifth Sunday of Lent (B), March 22, 2015 – Jer 31, 31-34; Heb 5, 7-9; Jn 12, 20-33
He learned obedience from what he suffered (Heb 5, 8)
Lifted up from the earth, Jesus seals a new pact.
The Lord promises a new covenant. It will not be like that of Sinai, which was violated no sooner than made. Interiority is what will make the difference: “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts.”
The promise is now fulfilled with Jesus’ coming. Into our hearts has been poured out through the Holy Spirit the love of God, proven to the utmost in Jesus’ death for sinners. Our motivation no longer springs from traditions that are imposed from outside, but rather from Christ’s compelling love within us.
Knowing love in that Jesus “laid down his life for us” and that love is “not that we have loved God, but that he loved us,” we now dare to love. Divine love enables us to fulfill the new commandment, new because of the clause, “as I have loved you” (St. Augustine).
To love as Jesus, obedient to death, shall be the trade mark of disciples. They will thus be recognized as followers of the Perfecter of the covenant by their commitment to justice and solidarity. They will find terribly troubling that, in a largely Catholic country, “the church’s social teaching has failed to take root in the hearts and minds of most of the rich and powerful,” alumni, most of them, of the best Catholic schools. They will likewise be horrified by the forecast that the richest 1% would own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.
The New Testament people will not allow pharisaical obsession with doctrines (cf. Evangelii Gaudium 35) to stand in the way of the observance of the weightier things of the law: mercy, justice, fidelity. Nor will they retreat into their security—into “my room, my books, my Mass,” examples mentioned by St. Vincent de Paul puts it (FrXI:201)—nor opt for rigidity and defensiveness (Evangelii Gaudium 45); rather, they will seek to be evangelized by the poor and serve, like Philip and Andrew, as mediators for those who want to see Jesus, and announcers, like the angel Gabriel, of the incarnation of the Word, who came down to take us up with him to the Father. To be evangelical, they will be like the poor who practice the true religion.
No, the Church cannot have any drawing power other than that of the one, who, giving his body up and shedding his blood, draws everyone to himself.
Lord Jesus, teach us in our inmost selves the truth that the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, produces much fruit.