A Change of Heart

March 21, 2021, The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Cycle B)

The tie in between today’s readings: Obedience is the Essential Challenge of Eternal Life.

Psalm 51:3-4;12-15, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 5:7-9, John 12:20-33

Something had to be done. From the moment that He led them out of Egypt up to the time of our Old Testament reading today in Jeremiah 31:31-34, the relationship between God and His people had been strained, to say the least. Even now, this prophet weeps for the Jews who are heading into Babylonian captivity and so punctuate yet another sad chapter in their history with Jehovah. This “same old, same old” can’t keep going on, nor will it. Our reading in Jeremiah brings hope. The Almighty is ready to make a new covenant. It’s not so much a new deal as a peeling back to reveal His core intent from the beginning. You know, in the Garden, where God and man got along, and everything was perfect…before Adam and Eve ushered in a world of broken hearts. You can only fix broken hearts by creating a change of heart. So, the Lord is going to rewrite man’s cardiac code. He will do this through His Son, Jesus Christ, who will die on a cross. Faith in Him will provide pardon for our sins and re-create a new heart in us that will live for the Father. In order to help us with our new existence, the Son of God will live on the earth for thirty-three years to teach us how it’s done. Hint: you have to start out on your knees.

Our reading in Hebrews 5:7-9 gives us insight into Jesus’s prayer life. Jesus always prayed, as should we. Prayer is essential for our relationship with the Lord, but our commitment to it is often inconsistent. It’s hard. It’s emotional. It’s draining. But keep at it. The God who wants to connect with us will help us. As we persevere, we will develop a deep reverence and a growing love for the Lord. This love will foster obedience. That’s the second point and main thrust of the passage. Jesus always obeyed His Father. Through obedience, we find the answers to our prayers, growth in godliness, and the evidence of our salvation. It’s the “not my will, but thine be done” that puts our love into action…for a while, at least.

Let’s be real. No matter how much we want to know God, love God, and serve Him in this world, as the Catechism goes, disobedience is deeply rooted in our nature. Even the best of us fails…badly. Sin is all too easy. Fortunately, through the blood of Jesus, our Father is ready and willing to forgive any and all who will confess and repent. So, in our endeavor to become more like Christ in this world, a good Act of Contrition and a sturdy pair of knee pads will always come in handy. Today’s reading in Psalm 51:3-4;12-15, gives us a useful framework in which to build our prayer of sorrow that will work for both God and our neighbor. First and foremost, you must own your sin. No excuses. Acknowledge the parties you have offended. Ask for their forgiveness with an eye toward restoring the relationship. Make restitution if possible. After doing all you can to make it right, move on in the joy of the Lord’s forgiveness and, by the way, don’t forget to forgive yourself too. Lastly, no matter if you recite your prayer or compose your own, sincerity with a renewed purpose is everything. If you sin again, don’t be discouraged. Many find that the Christian life is a cycle of love, obey, stumble, and start again. Keep your focus! Chase holiness! Die to self! Live for God! It’s not easy and if taken to its logical conclusion…a little scary also. But it’s the essential challenge of eternal life, as some Christ seekers find out in today’s gospel, John 12:20-33. (Better read to vs 36 to get the full effect.)

Working their way through Jesus’ posse, a group of Greek gentiles make it backstage to see the Master. With only a few minutes between sets, they barely get their intros in before the Lord probes their true intentions: “Boys. I’m going to die. It’s the Father’s will. I’m cool with it because I know that if I do then something tremendous will happen. So, what about you guys? You can love your own lives, keep the ‘same old, same old’ and just be another bunch of my groupies or you can love Me…obey Me…follow Me…and give up your own lives to be My disciples. My Father will honor that and give you all an eternal life that will blow your minds. Think about it.”

Jesus picks up His microphone and goes back on stage for His encore. “I just told my new friends back there that it’s the Father’s will that I lay down My life. Does it distress Me? Yes. Is there sorrow in My heart? You bet. Am I in anguish for what’s coming? I Am. But I was born for this! My destiny lies with it! The Father says I must, and I always obey Him because I love Him. So, I say…BRING IT!” Just then a voice booms from heaven, “Right on, Son!”  The crowd is amazed! “That’s My Father telling all of you that He’s got My back. Judgement is coming on the world. Its ruler will be cast out. My Kingdom will take over when I, the Light of the world, am lifted up. I will draw all people to Myself. So, now’s the time of decision. Leave your ‘same old same old’ life choice. Believe in the Light! Come to the Light! Be children of the Light and live forever! Thank you! Peace Out!”

Jesus obeyed His Father and established the New Covenant by offering His body and blood at Calvary. Now, it’s your turn. Confess your sins and by faith in Christ’s sacrifice find forgiveness for them. Let God write His nature into you and renew your heart. Live for Him, pray, and embrace eternal life. Become part of the joyful pardoned who are the children in the Kingdom of God.

2 thoughts on “A Change of Heart

  1. Clifford m

    Blessed be the name of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, may God bless and direct our paths accordingly to the word of God aswell as the Blessed will of God.

    Like

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