March 17: Some bystanders heard a voice from heaven and maintained, “An angel has spoken to him.”

My dear brothers and sisters, today, as we gather to reflect on the Word of God, we are invited to delve into the profound mystery of the new covenant that the Lord offers us, a covenant sealed in the precious blood of Jesus Christ. The readings presented to us on this Fifth Sunday of Lent reveal to us the depth of God’s love for humanity and the transformative power of obedience, suffering, and sacrifice.                                

In the first reading from the prophet Jeremiah, we hear the promise of a new covenant, unlike the old covenant made with the Israelites when they were led out of Egypt. This new covenant is not one merely written on tablets of stone but is inscribed upon the very hearts of God’s people. God promises to dwell within us, guiding us with His law, forgiving our sins, and establishing an intimate relationship with us. This covenant speaks of restoration, reconciliation, and a deep communion between God and His people.                                                                           

As we reflect on the words of Jeremiah, we are reminded of the profound truth that God’s desire is not simply to impose laws upon us but to transform us from within, to shape our hearts according to His will. This transformation is made possible through the obedience and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, as we hear in the second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews.                                                                                        

In the days of His earthly life, Jesus offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the Father. He experienced the depths of human suffering and learned obedience through His own trials. Yet, in His obedience unto death, He became the source of eternal salvation for all who believe in Him. Through His suffering and death on the cross, Jesus opened the way for us to be reconciled with God and to experience the fullness of life.                                                                     

The Gospel passage from John further illuminates the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice and the call to discipleship. When some Greeks come seeking Jesus, He speaks of the hour of His glorification, which is to come through His imminent death and resurrection. Jesus uses the imagery of a grain of wheat, illustrating that only through dying to oneself can one bear much fruit. He challenges us to embrace the paradox of losing our lives in order to find true life in Him. Whoever serves Him must follow Him, even to the point of self-sacrifice.      

Jesus’ own prayer in the face of His impending death reveals His complete surrender to the Father’s will. He does not ask to be spared from His hour of suffering but instead prays for the Father’s glory to be revealed through His sacrifice. In this moment, Jesus models for us the perfect obedience and trust in God’s plan, even in the midst of anguish and uncertainty.                                                                                               

My brothers and sisters, as we journey through this season of Lent, let us reflect on the profound implications of the new covenant established through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Let us allow God to inscribe His law upon our hearts, transforming us from within and guiding us in our journey of faith. May we embrace the call to discipleship, following Jesus with wholehearted devotion, even if it means embracing the cross. And may we, like Jesus, surrender ourselves completely to the Father’s will, trusting in His promise of eternal life and glory.                                                                                                           

As we prepare to enter into Holy Week, let us enter into these sacred mysteries with hearts open to receive God’s grace and mercy. Let us walk with Jesus on the road to Calvary, knowing that it is through His sacrifice that we are redeemed. And let us rejoice in the hope of the resurrection, which brings new life and the fulfillment of God’s promises.                                                                                                                

May the grace of God, the love of Jesus Christ, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all, now and forever.

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