FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT – 2015
It is the last Sunday of Lent, on the following Sunday we will begin the Holy Week. Let us review our Lenten journey:
We began with the contemplation of Jesus tempted in the desert after his baptism in the Jordan river, when he heard the voice of the Father saying “You are my beloved Son…”
In awe, like the disciples who were witnesses of the transfiguration of the Lord, we learned that the beloved son who had been tempted in the desert is God incarnate who allows us to see his glory, and the Father repeats again the same words pronounced at Jesus’ baptism “This is my beloved… listen to him.”
After that we began a series of three Sundays in which the liturgy helps us to contemplate three different themes:
o Jesus cleanses the Temple of his Father and says to us that he is the true temple, the true law.
o Jesus has to be lifted up on the cross so that whoever looks at him will be saved, like those who looked at the bronze serpent in the desert were cured from the bite of the snakes.
o Jesus grain of wheat that falls and dies to give us life, invites us to do the same, if we want to have eternal live and give it to others.
Let us see what message do the readings bring to us today.
FIRST READING – Jer 31:31-34
Ø Jeremiah is the prophet that was present when the fall of Jerusalem, when the city felt under the power of the Babylonian empire, in 586 B.C
Ø Today’s reading belongs to the part of the book called “the book of consolation” chapters 30 and 31, considered to be one of the highest points in the spirituality of the Old Testament.
Ø Jeremiah dares to propose the substitution of the Covenant on Mount Sinai by a “New Covenant.”
Ø The emphasis is on the word “new”, on the newness which this covenant will bring.
Ø Jesus fulfills this new covenant announced by Jeremiah, and Jesus himself on consecrating the wine says that this is the new and eternal covenant…
Ø What is this new covenant?
o First of all it is new, it is not the old one with some changes, no, it is new, completely new.
o God says that he will make a new covenant with House of Israel. The church is called the new Israel, which is formed by all who accept the Lord, who turn their eyes to him to be saved
o This covenant will not be like the covenant made when God took their “fathers” and led them by his hand from slavery to freedom.
o It will not be a law written on cold and hard stones, like the first covenant on Mount Sinai.
o It is a covenant in which God repeats “You will be my people” and “I will be your God.”
o Under these words we discover the compassionate love of God toward all those men and women who will be his people.
o In the New Covenant the law will be written in hearts of human flesh, in the heart of each man and woman who will look at the Lord to be saved.
o God will be more than ever “his God” and they will be “his people.”
o Something new will happen, each person (young and old) will know the law since God will put it in their hearts.
o This law will be in the human heart like the rivers of water which Jesus promised the Samaritan woman.
o The church has seen in these passages about the living water and the law in the heart, the pouring out and the presence of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, on his church, on each one of its members.
o All this wonderful things will happen because he will have forgiven their guilt and their sin. Jesus will fulfill this offering his life on the cross for the glory of the Father and our salvation, both things are the same thing.
In the Responsorial Psalm, we will ask God CREATE IN ME A PURE HEART, on which you may write the new law, the new covenant.
Have mercy on me God in your goodness
In the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
And of my sin cleanse me.
A clean heart create for me O God
And a steadfast spirit renew within me
Cast me not out from your presence
And your Holy Spirit take not from me
Give me back the joy of your salvation
And a willing spirit sustain in me
I will teach transgressors your ways
And sinners shall return to you.
SECOND READING – Hebrews 5:7-9
« The author of this letter reflects in this chapter on Jesus’ priesthood.
« Every priest is formed in prayer which enkindles in his heart the love of God, and helps him to be more and more close to the God whom he loves.
« In this process man learns obedience, to become all that God has dreamed for each one of us when he created us.
« Jesus, the Word of God, the Incarnate Son of the Father, who partakes in our limited human nature, in prayer, in the events of his life, learns to obey. The Letter says “he learned obedience from what he suffered.”
« And when he will be made perfect, consecrated in obedience, in suffering and in the giving up of his life.
« He will become the source of salvation for all those who obey, who look at him to be saved.
« The author sees in all that process of Christ the priest, a new priesthood which gives salvation to all who cling to him, and he takes them to God.
« For a new covenant a new priesthood is needed.
GOSPEL John 12:20-33
ü John presents today a group of Greeks. As we have already said in the Gospel of John each person represents a different group of human beings.
ü The group today is a group of Greeks, gentiles who do not belong to the people of Israel.
ü They approach Philip and say WE WANT TO SEE JESUS.
ü When they told Jesus, he teaches the following lesson, which might seem not to respond to what those men were looking for, but Jesus is explaining this situation, some gentiles want to see him, let us remember that whoever looked at the bronze serpent in the desert was cured , whoever looks at Jesus with faith is saved.
ü The hour has come, what hour? The hour of Jesus which John mentions several times in his Gospel.
o It is not a chronological hour, but a “kayros” a time of salvation.
o It is the hour of the glorification of the Son. What glorification? The glorification of his death and resurrection, his Passover.
ü He has to die like the grain of wheat in order to give life.
o All of us, if we want to give life we have to die like the grain of wheat, like Jesus
o Jesus invites us, if we want to serve him, to follow him because where “I am” my servant will also be
o Whoever serves him will be honored by the Father. After all the Father said on the Mountain of the Transfiguration “listen to him.”
ü Jesus opens his heart to us he tells us “I am troubled.”
o Jesus is ready to do the will of the Father which is his food, but as a man that he is, he experiences fear of suffering, abandonment, scorn, death.
o How much we have to be grateful to Jesus for opening his heart and letting us know his feelings.
o But John continues saying that Jesus acknowledges that he has come for this “hour”
o Will he ask the Father to deliver him up from this hour?
o No, because he has come for this “hour.” It is the hour to make real in his flesh the “New Covenant” for the salvation of all.
o Jesus asks the Father to glorify his name as Father
o The Father responds to Jesus, he speaks to him as he did in his baptism and on the transfiguration, “I have already glorified you and will glorify you again”
o The glory of Jesus lies in his filial, loving and difficult obedience to the compassionate and loving will of the Father.
o Those present do not understand the meaning of the voice, but Jesus explains that this voice did not come for him, but for them, to help them to see Jesus not with the eyes of flesh but of faith.
ü And Jesus makes the solemn declaration
o Now the judgment of this world has come
o Now the prince of this world, the spirit of evil has been driven away, it has no more power.
o And once “ I will be lifted up from the earth” I will attract all to me. The cross of Christ has always been the point of attraction of Christians and non-Christians.
o Jesus realizes completely the “new covenant” engraved in the human heart, his death seals this covenant made in love and compassion; and thus he attracts all. Only a compassionate and respectful love can make us go back to the heart of our Father.
ü John ends this fragment saying that “lifted up from the earth” means Jesus death on the cross.
GOSPEL OF JOHN 11: 1-45.
« John narrates the resurrection of Lazarus, interpreted as the resurrection of Israel into the New Israel.
« The Jews (according to John these are the Jews who do not accept Jesus, most of the time it refers to the religious authorities) agree to kill Jesus because he has given the life back to a dead man.
« For John this is the cause of his condemnation, for the Synoptic Gospels he is condemned because he has made himself like God.
« When Jesus hears that his friend is sick he does nothing, he let him die. Israel is also sick but it cannot be cured it has to be resurrected.
« The sentence “the one you love is sick” is a reference also to Israel, the beloved and chosen people of God is sick to death. The death of Lazarus will be the occasion for the manifestation of the glory of God, and as well the resurrection of the people of Israel will make visible the glory and the power of God.
« Martha at the beginning represents the group of Jews who have a pharisaic orientation; but later she does a leap of the new faith in Christ.
« The conversation of Jesus with Martha is a theological declaration on life, resurrection and the identity of Jesus.
« Lord if you had been here my brother would have not died, but I believe that God will give to you whatever your ask. – Have I not tell you that your brother will rise? – Yes on the last day – I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE … and whoever BELIEVES IN MI WILL NOT DIE FOREVER. – Do you believe Martha? YES LORD I HAVE COME TO BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD, WHO HAVE COME TO THE WORLD.
« Martha goes to call Mary who was still outside the village waiting for the Lord. There is here a connotation to the Song of Songs when the girl is waiting for her beloved. The relationship of Mary with Jesus is different from the one between Jesus and Martha. Mary related to him from her heart.
« Mary says to Jesus the same words as Martha said, but probably she meant something different, because Jesus does not request from her a profession of faith as he did with Martha.
« He has been dead for 4 days. After four days the person was considered really dead.
« Israel is also dead in its faith, but Jesus has the power to give life again, because he is the Life.
« And Jesus raises Lazarus from the tomb, he also gives new life to the faithful Israel that opens its heart and puts its faith in him.
« The man comes out with hands and feet tied, are these the ties of the old Law? Jesus orders them to free him, I think that Jesus has been doing that all his life long and continues to do it for all of us.
« A good work may have different results according to who receives it or sees it:
o For some it helps them to believe, to put their faith in him.
o For others it separates them from him, and they agree to put him to death. What an irony! to kill the one who gives life, who is life himself. How much darkness can the human heart harbor.
« Do I believe in the resurrection? Do I believe that Jesus is risen? Do I believe that he can raise me up, give life to me? Let us say with Martha LORD I HAVE COME TO BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE THE MESSIAH.
- CASTRO SÁNCHEZ, Secundino. Evangelio de Juan – Compendio exegético-existencial. Madrid 2002.
- LOZANO, Juan Manuel. Escritos(Writings) María Antonia París, Estudio crítico, “El Misionero Apostólico- The Apostolic Missionary.” Barcelona 1985.
- RAVASI, GIANFRANCO. Según las Escrituras. Doble Comentario de las lecturas del domingo. Año B. San Pablo, Bogotá,Colombia 2005.
- RUBIO MORÁN, Luis. “Escrito a los Hebreos” en Comentario al Nuevo Testamento. Estella (Navarra) 1995.
§ VIÑAS, José María cmf y BERMEJO, Jesús, cmf. Autobiography of Saint Anthony Mary Claret.
For us the Claretian Missionary Sisters the first reading has a very especial and dear meaning. We believe that the new covenant was made real in the heart of our Foundress on her Initial Experience, when the Lord engraved his law in her heart.
I was very attentive, overwhelmed to what was happening, and it seemed to me that I was reading the Holy Law of God, but without seeing any books nor letters; I was seeing it written, and I was understanding it so very well, that it seemed to me it was imprinting in my soul but in a particular way the book of the Holy Gospels, which till then I had never read, neither the Sacred Scripture (O.T). After, by God’s grace, I have read something and I have seen it written word by word, as our Lord taught it to me from the holy tree of the cross. It seems to me that the words I understood were coming out from his host holy mouth. (María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 5)
I tell myself: A Son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man on fire with love, who spreads its flames wherever he goes. He desires mightily and strives by all means possible to set the whole world on fire with God's love. Nothing daunts him; he delights in privations, welcomes work, embraces sacrifices, smiles at slander, and rejoices in suffering. His only concern is how he can best follow Jesus Christ and imitate Him in working, suffering, and striving constantly and single-mindedly for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls.(Anthony Mary Claret, Fpounder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 494)