5th Sunday of Lent – 2018

5LB18.   Jeremiah 31:31-34.  “I will make a new covenant.”  “It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers.”  “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts.”  “No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord.  All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord.”  In this passage twice God uses the expression ‘to know him,’ the Lord.  I believe that the law that is placed within them and written upon their hearts, which they will have no need toteach one another, is the very presence of the Lord himself who, from within their hearts, will dictate to them the law, which is his will.    He announces to them that it is the internal presence of the Lord himself and not an external written document that is the law.  The Lord says to them, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people;” and not as so many of the Judaic leaders of the time of Jesus seem to have taken as their faith:  “The written law will be your god and you shall be the people of the written law.”

Psalm 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15.   The God, who dwells within us, enables us to be obedient to his will and so no longer be a sinful people.  His Holy Spirit guides us to follow his ways and leave our own behind us.

John 12:20-33.  The passage in this gospel: “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life,” is reflective of Luke 14:26-7:  “If anyone comes to me without hating his father or mother, wife and children, brothers and sister, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”  I understand that these passages mean to say that we must first love God and out of our love for God we must love what God loves, and wants us to love, which is a supernatural motivation and not a natural one that says that we love our own self, families and friends because that is what comes to us naturally as creatures of this earth.  To be a follower of Christ we must love God and anyone or anything else out of a love for God.  In Matthew 22: 37-38, Jesus answering a Pharisee said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the greatest and first commandment.”  In John 13:34, Jesus, replacing the Old Testament second of the two greatest commandments says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”  The measure of loving your neighbor is not as you love yourself, as it was in the Old Testament, but as God loves us.  God is the measure of all things and God is the reason and motivation for all things.  Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

In today’s gospel, Jesus says, “Whoever serves me must follow me and where I am there also will my servant be.  The Father will honor whoever serves me.”  To serve God means to be a servant to his will.  Remembering now what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24b that we must think as God thinks and not as human beings do.  We must daily, throughout each day, ask the Holy Spirit to put to death our natural, worldly ways and give us a life of holy, heavenly ways.  In Matthew 16: 24, “Then Jesus said to disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

This section that begins, “I am troubled now.” is reflective of Jesus’ agony in the garden in Luke 22:42-44.  The voice or thunder from heaven was to show to the surrounding crowd the glory that Jesus was giving to the Father by being obedient to the Father’s will. At the end Jesus says, “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”  Not only did he say that to indicate that he would die on the cross but also he was answering the question that he knew the Greeks want to ask him.  ‘In drawing everyone to himself,’ the salvation he was bringing was not only for the Jews but also for the whole world.

Hebrews 5:7-9.   Jesus prays that he be spared from this cup of suffering and death on the cross but he wants to do not his will but the Father.  “He learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”  Jesus, in his divinity is perfect and all-knowing, but in his humanity he learned obedience and was made perfectly holy.  This line recalls the passage from the Gospel that calls us to follow him in his obedience and so in our obedience be honored by God.