Fifth Sunday of Lent
A Homily - Cycle B - 2011-2012
by Rev. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Jeremiah 31:31-34
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 513-4, 12-13, 14-15
Second Reading - Hebrews 5:7-9
Gospel John 12:20-33
John wrote to show that Christ was
the Messiah, the Divine Son of God.
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered 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. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.
"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." Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it and will glorify it again." The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, "An angel has spoken to him." Jesus answered and said, "This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; Now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself." He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.
On September 14th, 1814, a Georgetown Lawyer saw the turning point of the War of 1812, thus asserting the independence of the infant United States of America. Prior to the battle of Baltimore, seamstress, Betsey Ross, was commissioned to weave a garrison flag which was worthy of showing the American presence at Ft. McHenry. The American flag was ironically constructed of English wool, measuring an impressive 30 x 42 feet in size. Washington, D.C. had already been laid to ruins, and the British were moving in upon Baltimore as their next target. The lawyer, named Francis Scott Key, saw that English-cotton Ensign of Stars and Stripes persistently flying in the dawn’s early light , the face of continual British bombing, thus protecting a new and magnificent citizenship. Duly inspired, he wrote a poem about the event, a poem which would become our national anthem.
Truly, that flag hoisted 90 feet in the air would become ever more a symbol which countrymen would flock to, would be drawn to, full of pride and hope in the country which was theirs.
The initial allegiance which was shared by the original 13 colonies, based initially upon a mutual distrust of the British Empire, was now solidifying in the hearts of all citizens. The time had come for an external unity due to unrest with taxation soon became an internal unity based on a common heritage, a unified legacy, a national identity, which came to be known as American. And it existed, not just on the sleeves of soldiers, but in the hearts of all.
When people flock to the Smithsonian Museum in D.C. to see the same flag that flew 200 years ago, they are reminded in the hearts what it means to be an American.
Going from externals to the heart, this is how we grow, as individuals, as a community, as a nation, as a world, as a Church! The Lord who created us knows this well, so he initially established commandments which we were ordered to follow, externally imposed for our own benefit, much as a child is ordered to avoid the hot stove at dinnertime. The days were coming when the Lord would place the law, not simply on stone tablets, but in the hearts of all believers. They would no longer need external orders, for they would be driven by their own yearning. So that, when the time came for Him to be lifted up, when the time came for Him to be glorified, they don’t simply FOLLOW Him, they WANT to see Him, they FLOCK to Him, a NEW flag, the CROSS, which would unify all God’s people.
That time has indeed has come, it is Passiontide. The hour has finally arrived, the hour for the Son of Man to be glorified, to be lifted up from the earth, so that He may draw all people to himself. Thousands of Americans flocked to the flag still posted at the twilight’s last gleaming, but the WHOLE WORLD would be invited to the gates of Heaven through the man who was “posted” on the Cross, for the salvation of all. A flag made from enemy material became a symbol of unity and independence, just as a man CRUCIFIED as the enemy would unify ALL people in Eternal freedom and so the time has come, to intensify our preparations, to flock to the “flag” of our faith, to unite ourselves to the ensign of our salvation, Jesus Crucified, who gives us hope that never dies. BUT, this flag is draped in purple, the crucifix is no longer, the statues have been covered, all is hushed, all is quieted! The very thing which we seek has been hidden from us . . . the Americans at Baltimore NEEDED Old Glory flying above Ft. McHenry, and we need the CROSS of Christ - - - and yet it’s not here! We’ve been fasting, praying, giving of ourselves for weeks now . . . isn’t it TIME?
Jeremiah reminds us, the Psalm on Good Friday reminds us - - - the “flag” of our faith WILL return, but it is time for our HEARTS to be ready to receive this new covenant, this new creation, this new dignity given by God. We must know HOW to ACCEPT the gift that is coming, He is going to offer us! In a world that is only comfortable with external reality, our Lord wants to meet us at the CORE of our being. Those early Americans opened all their resources and energies to save their infant nation, we open up our hearts to prepare for the Lord’s salvation of our souls. IF our hearts are ready through prayer, through the Sacrament of Confession, then when Palm Sunday comes, WE will be on that road to Jerusalem, when Holy Thursday come, WE will be in the upper room, when Good Friday comes, WE will be at Calvary, as the King of Love draws us to Himself. Lord, renew our hearts, cleanse us from sin, make us proud of our heritage our legacy, our identity . . . to be Christian.