This Sunday, March 22, 2015, is the 5th Sunday of Lent. The readings will be Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 5:7-9; and John 12:20-33.

As the great feast of the Paschal Mystery (Jesus’ death and resurrection) draws close, our readings help us review and understand what it is that we are about to celebrate. Through the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah, God states his intention to form a new covenant with the chosen people. Unlike the covenant based on a law from above, which the Israelites had broken, the new covenant will be written upon their hearts, placed within them by a merciful and generous God.

In the second reading from Hebrews, we feel the weight of Christ’s passion. We are reminded that Jesus was, indeed, fully human – fearful and anguished about the suffering that lay ahead. But, somehow, the scriptures indicate, there is a “perfecting” that is achieved through suffering. In continuing to follow and trust God even as he suffered, Jesus reveals the extent of God’s love for us and seals the “new covenant,” of salvific love pointed to by Jeremiah. 

The Gospel scene takes place shortly before Jesus’ death, and Jesus is reflecting on these same themes.  “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified,” Jesus says. He is troubled, he considers asking God to spare him this terrible situation. But trusting totally in God, Jesus continues on his way and teaches that “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” Setting aside one’s own ‘life’ for the sake of following and serving God, even when suffering is involved, is the call of every Christian. It is also the path to great love, eternal life, and God’s glory.

Rose Davis