Commentary Theme for the 5th Sunday of Lent:
“Great Is The One Who Loves”.
The word of God this Sunday is a preparation for the forthcoming events of Easter: the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. It is not easy to fully understand why all this happened.
The Gospel sees the death of Jesus as the manifestation of his love. One fulfils ones purpose in life and grows to maturity only when one becomes capable to love gratuitously. That is when one gives up one’s life for one’s brothers and sisters. What is defeat and shame for the world is victory and glory for such a person.
The second reading is an invitation to follow Christ along his path. It is a journey full of difficulties. But Jesus went through it ahead of us and well knows and understands our perplexities, uncertainties, fears and frailty.
The first reading contains Jeremiah’s prophecy of the ‘new covenant’ that we are living today, and the Spirit of Christ provides us with the strength to sacrifice our life as he did.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration have become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us
by our Creator.
Saint Jerome said, “Ignorance of the Scriptures
is ‘Ignorance of Christ’.
Jeremiah 31:31-34. 5th Sunday of Lent Yr B
In the first reading, Jeremiah voices his belief in the coming of a ‘new covenant’ between God and his people. The king at that time, Josiah, was already initiating political and religious reforms. Jeremiah saw their merit and supported Josiah. It was now a quiet and peaceful period, so Jeremiah had time to reflect on past events of the history of his people to avoid the repetition of certain catastrophes. A certain circumstance came to mind insistently: about one hundred years before the tribes of the ‘Northern Kingdom’ had been wiped out by the Assyrian armies. The prophet kept asking himself: why did God allow this to have taken place?
In the first part of the reading the Lord replies to this question: The Northern Kingdom was destroyed because by failing to keep the covenant it chose not to have God’s protection. At the foot of Mt. Sinai Israel had made a pact with their God who had ‘taken them by the hand’ to bring them out of slavery in Egypt, to protect and guide them. God had promised them a good life provided they kept his commandments and listened to his prophets. The people had vowed fidelity to their God, but history showed a succession of betrayals, which resulted in ruin at the hand of their enemies.
In the second part of the reading God tells us what he is going to do to deal with the infidelity of his people: he will make a ‘new covenant’. The ‘new covenant’ was to be different: commandments would no longer be engraved on stones, but in the most intimate part of humans, in their hearts. The Law was no longer to be an external imposition, but a desire and a resolve to walk in God’s way. The Spirit of God in a person’s heart would be the guiding force. Whoever would receive this Spirit would have the strength to overcome all temptations; even those that in people’s eyes seemed insurmountable. What God promises in this ‘new covenant’ is a new and deeper level of relationship between himself and the people. This covenant will not be able to be broken like the old one was. It will not be an agreement that calls for external observance of formal compliance.
There are two kinds of rules: the kind imposed on us from the outside, and the one that springs up from within. Rules imposed from outside us bind us in varying degrees of commitment. These are the easiest rules to ignore when we think that no one is looking or when we convince ourselves that no one will be adversely affected. But interior rules are of another order. They are our moral instincts, our personal code of honour. It does not matter who is looking or how little reprisal we can expect. We identify with these interior rules; they are, who we are. To break an interior rule is to lose connection with the Spirit within us and ourselves, which leaves us feeling having lost the ‘Way’.
This prophesy of a new law began to be realized at Easter, when Jesus, by dying on the Cross and by his Resurrection, and entering into the glory of his Father won for us our Redemption. By our Baptism, Jesus gave us his Spirit, his strength, his forgiveness and his love. Since that day the ‘Law of God’ is carved in our hearts; but why are we still doing evil things? Because the Spirit of God has been placed in us not like a large tree, but only as a ‘small seed’ that needs to grow and develop. When this seed grows to maturity, then the Kingdom of God will be fully with us.
Psalm 51:3-4, 12-15. (Missal Ps. 50).
The Psalm, the best known of the penitential Psalms, is a powerful prayer of repentance. Its opening shows a profound understanding of sin and the need for forgiveness. It proposes that a true remedy for sin is a ‘new heart and a new spirit’, the new creation spoken by Jeremiah, which according to Paul came about through Christ (2 Cor 5:17).
Hebrews 5:7-9. 5th Sunday of Lent Yr B.
The letter to the Hebrews tells us clearly that Jesus did not feign his humanity; he was truly a man and went through all the difficulties and temptations we all experience. The only difference is that he was never overcome by evil and was faithful to the Father, while we often give in.
In Jesus’ suffering and death, he felt what every person would feel in these circumstances. He asked the Father for help and, if possible, to be spared suffering and death. He really prayed and asked the Father that he may discover his will and to have the courage to fulfill it. Jesus learnt obedience through his sufferings. He can sympathize with those have gone astray because he too in his humanity was subject to the limitations of weakness.
If it had been God’s purpose to save Jesus from dying on the Cross, an angel could have been dispatched as in the story of Abraham and Isaac, to stay the hand of the executioner. But as Jesus himself said, in order to prepare a place for us, he had to go there first. This why we can trust him when he invites us to follow him.
The Greeks who have come to Jerusalem for the feast want to see Jesus, thus fulfilling what the Pharisees had said about him: “The whole world has gone after him” (Jn 12:19). The first mention of the ‘hour’, at the wedding at Cana, revealed that it would be a moment of coming to faith in Jesus. It happened for Jewish disciples in the context of Jewish marriage. Now, it is the time for non-Jewish people to come to him.
The Gospel makes the same point as the letter to the Hebrews. Some Greeks approach Philip asking to see the Lord. Philip together with Andrew passes on this request to Jesus. But Jesus gives what appears to be a strange answer. He speaks about the ‘hour’, which has finally come – the hour of the Cross and the rising to new life. The ‘Way of the Cross’, which appeared as a possibility at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, now presents itself as inevitable. The ‘hour’ has come. His decision is to go through the humiliation and agony of the Cross, and be put to death. Jesus became the ‘grain of wheat’ that needed to die in order to bear much fruit.
Jesus had spoken earlier of his being lifted up (on the Cross) and that this would be the occasion to draw all people to himself. The result of the plot against Jesus actually turns out to have the opposite effect, to the one intended. Instead of leading to the elimination of Jesus, it became the way that God will use to confirm what Jesus stood for. Jesus uses the image of a ‘grain of wheat that must die’ and be transformed in the ground before it can bear fruit. In the same way decay and death is a painful but necessary process before coming to ‘new life’ again and bearing ‘fruit’.
Our Lenten journey will be also fruitful if we stand by our faith and agree to pay the price for it. The Cross is about violent suffering and death.
But it is also the way to Glory and Life.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on each day of the week following the
5th Sunday of Lent Year B, we reflect on …
Sun. …The number of times Israel had vowed fidelity to God and betrayed him. Consider also the many times we have made promises to God which proved to be unfaithful and the many times we have failed to keep to his commandments and the covenant we made with God at our baptism and confirmation.
Mon. …As Christians we are given the ‘Spirit of God’ in our hearts at our Baptism. Have we allowed the ‘Spirit’ in our hearts to give us strength and to be our guiding force in everything we do?
Tue. …Have we allowed this ‘New Covenant’ to strengthen and develop our relationship with God into a true bond of love as between a Father and his child by fully experiencing a special relationship with God through the sacraments given to us by Christ?
Wed. …Let us this Lent be guided by the Psalm and follow the true remedy for sin and start using the gift of the ‘Spirit’ to develop a new heart and become a new creation in Christ.
Thur. …Through challenging experiences let us learn obedience to God’s will and not sell-out to sin and follow the easy way out. The advice of the ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’ is to open up the heart to the Spirit who will bring supernatural power. ‘The Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming hurt into intercession.’ (#2843).
Frid. … Each one of us to a greater and lesser extent needs to ‘Die to Self and Sin’ and to ‘Rise up to New Life’ in Jesus if we are to provide the ‘Fruit from our Lives’ that is required from each one of us. This Lent let us allow ourselves to be transformed.
Sat. …The Spirit of God has been placed as a small seed into our hearts that needs to grow to spiritual maturity. Let us this Lent resolve to enrich this ‘seed’ through sincere prayer, the life sustaining Word of God in the Holy Bible and our gratuitous love for others. When this seed grows to maturity then the Kingdom of God will be fully with us.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, let us always remember Your words to Jeremiah in today’s first reading: “I will write it [the new covenant] in their hearts”. Help us to become more like Christ Your Son, may Your Holy Spirit continue to inspire us by his teachings and his resolve to always do Your will; and guide us in the ‘Way’ by the love he had for You and for others. May the ‘small seed’ that has been placed in our hearts grow to maturity and bear fruit for the ‘Kingdom of God’.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives, and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.