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  • Bill Miller

Scripture Reflection, Sunday, March 17, 2024, Fifth Sunday of Lent

Jeremiah 31:31-34 Hebrews 5:7-9 John 12:20-33

Our First Reading today is an oft featured text from Jeremiah that highlights the mercy of God and the love that God has for the people of Israel. It is also beautifully poetic, and this is another reason that it is frequently quoted. In particular, I draw your attention to the following:

“I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and they shall be my people.” (Jer. 31:33) What a wonderful line upon which to reflect and pray!

In his Letter to the Hebrews, Paul gives us a bit of a preview of what we will hear described in today’s Gospel. And he ends this passage with these thought-provoking lines: “he (Jesus) became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9) That line left me wondering: How well do we, who live in the 21st century, actually obey the will of God? That is a question each of us must ask ourselves, individually…and often.

In John’s Gospel we are treated once again to a flowing poetic narrative; this one is about the grain of wheat which must fall and die in order to produce fruit. And this metaphor for the Paschal Mystery (Life-Death-Resurrection) is followed by Jesus’ profound declaration that he must surrender himself to the Father, no matter the cost. It goes like this: “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say, ’Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:27-28)

If you are a regular reader of the reflections I post on this site, you know that one of my favorite themes is the very challenging theme about trusting God enough to surrender all to God. It is so powerful and so important that it appears as the second sentence in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Paula Huston, an author, teacher and spiritual director has a beautiful story illustration of surrender on page 197 of the March Issue of Give us This Day - an excellent daily devotional guide published by Liturgical Press. She tells the story of having taught many young aspiring writers in a creative writing class that she presented over a number of years. A significant number of the students fell into one of two categories: Either they already thought they knew all there was to know about writing, or they thought they were imposters who would never amount to anything as writers. Under such circumstances, she had to try to teach them either to be humble and open to learning, or to have confidence in the gifts that God had given them. But both instances called on them to focus less on themselves and more on the talent and inspiration they could receive if they were open to the source of all wisdom and all gifts.

May you receive a fruitful and blessed harvest from praying with today’s readings!

by: Bill Miller

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