Spiritual readings for Sunday 18th of March
12 March 2018 CGI news
Week of 12th March 2018 (reference: readings for Sunday 18th March)
5th Sunday of Lent – Year B - Reading: Jer 31, 31-34; Psalm 50 (51); Heb 5, 7-9; Jn 12, 20-33
"My Father will honor the one who serves me".
The readings for this week deal with the commitment that each of us should have with God's Plan, as Christ met his commitment to our salvation until the ultimate consequences.
In the first reading, Jeremiah speaks about God’s commitment to the New Covenant which is imprinted in each person's heart: "I will imprint my law deep in his soul and in his heart". This means that the New Covenant with God requires a total transformation, from the bottom of our being. And God himself sows the seed of this transformation in our soul, through the Baptism and, from the death and resurrection of Christ, through the Eucharist. It is enough that we accept the fact that God is in our soul. It is enough that, when we receive communion, we repeat "I believe that I am receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, willingly, in my body and my soul".
In the Gospel, Jesus presents his death as the New Covenant and he offers himself as the lamb (sacrifice) for each person. He asks the Father to "spare him that moment", but he knows that this is not possible, because his life and his death are God’s commitment to his people. God is going to the most extreme of human sacrifices to show us his New Covenant: he takes very seriously His commitment to love us.
Paul, in his Letter to the Hebrews, says that God saved Christ from the final death, through resurrection: "the one who could save him from death, and was heard because of his piety". But He did not spare him the sacrifice and suffering of death, because this was his commitment to being the cause of salvation for all: "despite being the Son, he learned obedience in suffering and, having reached its peak, he became the cause of eternal salvation for all those who obey him. Once again it is confirmed that the very Son of God was obedient and took to the extreme the love to the Father and to us. Paul tells us that He has become the cause of our eternal salvation, provided that we are obedient.
We Vincentians have also our commitment. Each visit we pay, each time that we overcome our own selfishness to serve the assisted person without limits of time and attention, we are proving our commitment to the Plan of God in us. The New Covenant appears in the relationship that each of us has with the person helped, because it is to Christ that we relate. It is not about a simple visit or about following the progress of a family: it is about our free and committed will responding to God's Covenant with us, through God's Covenant with the Poor that He presents to us. Therefore, it is the very mystique of communion; and, whenever we make a visit, we must repeat: "I think that I am going to meet the body and blood of Christ, willingly, in the tabernacle of the house of the assisted."
However, the Vincentian vocation cannot be only the visit. The encounter with God in the person of the Poor should lead to our transformation; in the same way that the prophet Jeremiah says that He imprinted the new law on our heart. And, as we have seen, Lent is a very important time to exercise this inner transformation: if we become holier, we will be happier and we will get rid of the vices that move us away from God. If we perceive our Vincentian vocation as the concrete expression of the New Covenant of God with his People, we will be conveying the entire history of the Church (history of the salvation of God's People) in the relationship of service to the Poor. It is a mystical, poetic and meaningful relationship.