Here is my homily for the weekend. God bless all!
5th Sunday of Lent, Cycle B
Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Hebrews 5: 7-9; John 12: 20-33
March 20/21, 2021
There comes a time in the life of men and women when they realize they are living or have lived his life for something or someone far greater than themselves. This moment comes either early in life, or mid-way through it, or at the moment of death. It is a moment in which we understand that life is eternal and death is certain. This moment of understanding is also a moment of decision, a moment in which we must make a choice. We must either accept or reject the presence of God in our lives. Acceptance will mean eternal glory and joy in heaven; rejection will mean eternal darkness and loneliness without God.
It is difficult to imagine why anyone would choose eternal darkness and separation, to deny ourselves the presence of God, yet many seem to do just that. It is equally difficult to imagine anyone struggling to accept God’s presence and the gift of eternal life in his presence, yet we all, if we are honest with each other, struggle in this way.
Conversion is always difficult. Making that decision nevertheless is necessary. Converted we all must be. Death is certain. Death is also a momentary path to greater glory, as all the martyrs in the history of the Church attest. Death is but a portal, a veil, a passage through which we must pass. Death is the path leading to our glory as sons and daughters of God, if we have accepted God as real and present, and remained in communion with him, or it will lead to our separation from God and his glory, if we have abandoned him.
The Gospel today reminds us that God’s love for his Son Jesus, and God’s love for all of us, is seen at the moment of the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Life is given to the entire world we are told, through his death. Jesus said if he is buried like a seed in the ground, if he is lifted up on the cross, then much fruit will come; the entire world will be saved. Jesus said that his death on the cross shows the whole world that he loves his Father, and the Father loves him, and they love us.
Jesus reminds us that Good Friday demands a response from us. We must either accept or reject the presence of God, and our choice will determine our eternity.
There is a great temptation nowadays to see death and suffering as signs of God’s absence, his non-existence, or his failure to love. That’s how some see Jesus’ death. That’s how some see their own. There is a great temptation to see something that is only momentary — death — as something eternal, and to avoid at all cost. Remember, we too are grains of wheat to be planted in soil so death may give way to much life. We must accept the soil in order to live for eternal joy.
If Jesus experienced death, so will we. If Jesus in his human nature struggled to accept the hour of his crucifixion, so will we. If Jesus called his crucifixion a moment of glory, so can we.
Death is never eternal; it is earth-bound. It does not exist in heaven. What is eternal is life, either with God or separated from him.
All this requires great faith. To preach it demands great faith and to hear it requires great faith, which is a way of saying it requires a strong relationship with Jesus Christ, his body the Church and his presence in the Eucharist. We will not see death as momentary, nor will we see eternal happiness if we are not strong in our relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist and in his mystical body the Church. Jesus in the Church and in the Eucharist is the way to heaven. Jesus said, “I am the Way.” He said, “I am with you always,” referring to the Church he established. He said, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you will have no life within you.” Nothing else, no one else, will get us there — only our faith, our communion with Jesus in the Church.
The choice is ours. Shall we be converted? Shall we turn to God, accept God and remain with him, or shall we turn away? The choice is always ours to make, but we must choose.
I hope that all of us today will pray the words of Joshua when so many centuries ago he put the same choice to the Hebrew people: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24: 15b)
May God bless us all!