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5th Sunday in Lent, Year B – Homily

5th Sunday in Let, Year B
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Hebrews 5:7-9
John 12:20-33
March 22, 2015

Do we really want Jesus to be part of our lives?

One might be inclined to say I won’t be here in church if I didn’t but how far does our desire to know Jesus go?  Is there something we are holding back on?

From the beginning God has always had a relationship with His people but the nature of the relationship has changed.  It has been based on “covenants”.

God made a covenant with Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars.  Abraham believed in faith.

Then God formed a covenant through Moses with all of Israel.  This covenant was based on the Ten Commandments written on stone tablets.  The people were to keep the commandments and in exchange God would watch over them and care for them.

It seemed simple.  The Israelites had clear commandments of what they must do but they failed and fell into sin.

The prophet Jeremiah tells us God will offer a new covenant in our hearts.  This covenant is based on love, specifically the love that Jesus shows us when He dies for us on the Cross.

What does the new covenant require of us?  Love of God.

What does it mean to love God?

We need to trust in God and when we do, we follow His commandments, not out of obligation but rather love.

To love God we need to turn our whole being, body, mind, and soul over to God.  This is not easy.  It’s easy to ask God for help with our problems but we might hold back.  We might expect God to fix the problem but we want Him to leave the rest of our lives alone, meaning we don’t give our whole being to God.

The problem is that when we hold something back, we restrict God’s ability to help us.  We need to admit our weaknesses if we expect God to help us.  We need to admit our sins if we expect God to wipe away our sins and to wash away our guilt.

Jesus tells us, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

I see two ways of looking at this.  First, there is earthly death.  Heaven awaits us who believe but we need to die in this world first.

There is another way of dying that we must consider as a second way of interpreting Jesus’ words.  We must die to the things of this world.  What things are we not ready to let go of?

It might be as simple as needing our coffee.  It might be our home or our favorite gadget.  It’s the attachment to the thing that is the problem.

There was a story of an Irish man who deeply loved the Irish land.  When it came time for him to die he wanted to be able to take a little piece of Ireland with him.  So, as he lay dying he held some dirt from the ground in his hand.  To hold it, he clinched it inside his hand.  When it came time from him to die, the angel came to take him to Heaven.  The angel extended his hand to the man but the man could not take it without letting go of the dirt in his hand.  He continued to grow weaker and weaker.  As he grew weaker, he could no longer clasp the dirt in his hand and dropped it.  As soon as he dropped it, the angel took his hand and led him to Heaven.

It may not be time for you to die yet but is there something you are holding onto that keeps you from letting God transform you into all that He means for you to be?

When you long to feel God’s presence, is there something you continue to hold onto that keeps God at a distance?

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