“Create a clean heart in me, O God.” (Ps. 51, 12a)
Suddenly, Lent is half over – we are over the hump! It is time to reflect on my Lenten journey so far. How persistent have I been in reaching those goals I set for myself on Ash Wednesday? What can I do to continue this journey with my God? Am I sidetracked from the desires of my heart?
This Sunday’s readings give us food for thought. Jeremiah reminds the people of the covenant they had made so long ago, and broken so often. “This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel, says the LORD. I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (cf. Jer. 31:31-34)
God’s law was not only on tablets of stone, but also instilled into the innermost of their beings. They waited longingly for a messiah to save them, but were easily sidetracked. Under Roman rule the Jews were allowed to continue practicing their religion – rituals, teaching, commandments. The promise of a Savior remained foremost in their minds and hearts. They yearned for freedom from tyranny.
When Jesus came along he was viewed as a great teacher, whose teachings were unlike those of others. His followers began to recognize that he could be the Messiah, and end the oppression of Roman rule. Jesus gave them hope, but his vision of his mission was just a little different from theirs!
Even Jews outside of Israel had heard of this different teacher: “Some Greeks had come to worship at the Passover Feast” and asked to see Jesus. Jesus spoke to them: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you, 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. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (cf. Jn. 12:20-33) Only after he died, were they able to recognize the words of Scripture that spoke of the coming messiah.
A seed contains the fullness of the plant from which it came. However, to become whole, it must die; it must allow a transformation to take place. The appearance of the seed is lost, but a new life springs forth toward into fullness of being. Especially during this time of Lent, along with the People of Israel, we are called to listen to God’s law of love and to nurture it within us, in faith and with prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Let us continue our journey to Easter in joy, ever more responsive to God’s gifts.
“Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord;
and where I am, there also will my servant be.” (Jn 12:26)
Submitted by Sr. Janice Fournier, p.m.