On this fifth and last Sunday of Lent for 2018, our Gospel and liturgy focus our attention on the imminent death of Jesus. The first reading from the prophet Jeremiah talks about the New Covenant that God plans to establish with the people of Israel. This new covenant contains a message of hope, forgiveness and transformation.
We have the advantage to be able to realize what Jeremiah is predicting, because we know how this new covenant comes to pass, through the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. But it is good for us to contemplate the message of hope, forgiveness and transformation.
First we have hope. Through the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross, we have the sure hope of the resurrection and eternal life for ourselves and our loved ones. As baptized Christians we have this sure hope, but we also have the responsibility to practice our faith daily. If we don’t practice our faith daily, then we miss out on the many graces that we receive from the Holy Spirit. If we don’t practice our faith daily, our lives will not be as full of this hope as they can be.
Second we have forgiveness. The Lord’s mercy is beyond our human comprehension. When we sin we need to repent of our sins and seek forgiveness through an examination of conscience and the sacrament of confession. Confession will do what Psalm 51 says—”Create a clean heart in me, O God.” If you have not been to Confession in a while, I invite you to come to the Lenten Reconciliation Service on March 22 at 7 p.m. We will have extra confessors that evening.
Finally we have transformation. When we practice our faith daily, the Lord will transform our lives. We will experience changes that cannot happen otherwise. Each day will be full of joy and our problems will not seem so bad. The focus of our lives will also be transformed from focusing on power or wealth or possessions to focusing on love of God, love of neighbor and love of self.
Jesus wants each of us to have hope, forgiveness and transformation and he will help us achieve this, if we turn our lives completely over to him and we cry out to him create a clean heart in me, O God.
Father Bob Pope