17 and 18 March 2018 Fifth Sunday of Lent B Homily
My sisters and brothers in Christ.
The prophet Jeremiah today tells us about a “new covenant”.
This covenant between the LORD and the people will be “new”.
This covenant will not be written on stones or placed in front of courthouses or even posted in churches.
This covenant will not be something to look at and admire.
No, this covenant is designed so as to get “inside people’s hearts”.
Jeremiah had more than enough verbal and verbose verbiage about religion coming out of people’s mouths.
Jeremiah uses an intimate if somewhat painful image from the Lord:
“I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
The Psalm refrain pleads to the LORD “…create a new heart within me”.
This “new heart” is akin to a spiritual “heart transplant”.
I know someone who recently had a kidney transplant. This person waited years for the transplant and finally their name came up on the list. The “new kidney” operation and follow up were not easy or simple. The removal of the non functioning kidney and the “new kidney” have required lots of new growth, multiple medication and deep pockets of patience, acceptance and humility.
New physical “heart transplants” are rare.
I don’t know about you but my “spiritual heart transplant” began a very long time ago.
Becoming a priest did not, I can assure you, make the “spiritual heart transplant” a sure thing or a painless surgery.
In case you have not noticed, my “spiritual heart transplant” is an ongoing project.
The letter to the Hebrews speaks today about Christ Jesús
“offering prayers and supplications,
loud cries and tears
to the one who could save him from death”.
This turned out to be a lesson in obedience for Christ Jesús (in the flesh) that gained salvation for we who are still “in the flesh”
Jesús in the Gospel has an alarming interior conversation with himself that we are privileged to share in today.
“I am troubled now. But what should I say?
‘Father, save me from this hour?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name.’”
Jesús name can only be glorified if Jesús, like a grain falls into the ground, and produces much fruit.
I have often wondered how many times Father Stanley Francis Rother, being a boy from Oklahoma wheat country, thought about these words the last year of his life before his hour came.
Jesús convinces himself to embrace the hour of his death to give glory to the Father and so as Jesús says:
“……when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself.”
If the “spiritual heart transplant” is successful we come to believe in Jesús and come to bear much fruit and we, like Jesus, give glory to the Father.