March 25th, 2012 – Fifth Sunday in Lent – Year B

Home > Pastor's Blog > March 25th, 2012 – Fifth Sunday in Lent – Year B

Dear Friends:

Lent’s fifth Sunday’s readings present us with a challenge. Just as Jesus became the “Promised Messiah of Glory” and the “Conquering Son of Man” by offering his life for others, we too can only possess heaven by dying to self and spending our lives in self-giving, sacrificial service.  Today’s readings focus on the upcoming death of Jesus, which is interpreted not only as a priestly sacrifice (Heb 5), but also as the moment of his “exaltation” and glorification” (Jn 12).

The first reading, taken from the book of the prophet Jeremiah, explains how God will replace the Old Covenant of Judgment with a New Covenant of Forgiveness of Sins.
This new, or renewed, covenant prophesied by Jeremiah has been fulfilled, at least in part, through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

In the second reading, St. Paul tells the Hebrews that it is by His suffering and death, in obedience to His Father’s will, that Jesus established the New Covenant.  Quoting the full text of Jeremiah 31:31-34, St. Paul explains that the new and better covenant was inaugurated through the high priest Jesus’ offering of himself as the one perfect sacrifice for sins.  We cannot appreciate adequately the “blood of the new and everlasting covenant” that we share in the Eucharist without recognizing the joys and sufferings, triumphs and setbacks that marked the history of God’s covenant relationship with his people.  Using metaphors of the “sown wheat grain” and the “spent life” in today’s gospel, Jesus teaches the same lesson. The gospel hints at Jesus’ inner struggle in accepting the cup of suffering to inaugurate the new and everlasting covenant.  However, Jesus accepts the cross as his “hour,” meaning the stepping stone to his passion, death, resurrection and exaltation.  Further, he considers his “hour” as the way of glorifying his heavenly Father and of being glorified by his Father.  It is also the way by which he draws all people into the saving action of God.  In addition, the “lifting up” of Jesus is the assurance of our own exaltation and glorification, provided we accept our crosses.