Homily – Fifth Sunday of Lent – Cardinal John Dew

Fifth Sunday of Lent, 18th March 2018, Cathedral

“See, the days are coming” they were the first words we heard from the reading from the Prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah was saying that v-because the people had been unfaithful to God that something new was about to happen…..he talked about a New Covenant that would not be an external Law, but that would be planted in the people themselves and through God’s mercy they would have a personal and direct knowledge of God.

“See, the days are coming”…that is what Lent is all about for you and I, God is doing something new for us as we listen more deeply to His words, as we through God’s grace grow in the way we respond to God and others every day. Lent is a time of personal renewal, a time to be more aware of the fact that God has written his law in our hearts

The days are coming when God will do all those things for us, are we ready for what God wants to do in our hearts.

Last weekend he whole world observed 24 hours of Prayer for the Lord. This year our 24 Hours of prayer was observed at Sts Peter and Paul Church, Lower Hutt. I went out late on the Friday night, I had hardly sat down and opened my little book of reflections and prayers when I read these words.

“Our Father, we have wandered and hidden from your face;

In foolishness have squandered your legacy of grace.”

I have been pondering ever since about how I have been using Lent and asking myself the question “have I squandered God’s grace? Am I squandering this time of renewal God has given me? This graced time of Lent? Have I realized that the Days are coming when God wants to write his law of love in my heart?

Jeremiah says “See, the days are coming” in some ways the response to that is found in Jesus words in the Gospel “now the hour has come.” “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” We know now that the way Jesus was glorified was to be lifted on the cross and then to be lifted up again in the glory and wonder of the Resurrection.

Jesus said:  “Now the hour has come

for the Son of Man to be glorified.

I tell you. Most solemnly

unless a wheat grain falls on the ground and dies,

it remains only a single grain;

but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest.”

Last year I happened to end up with several of those “little garden” pots from New World. Every $20 you spent you were given another one. I think they were really to get little children interested in gardening. I was like a little kid and had a whole lot of them. It was hard to think that what looked like a little piece of cardboard, and a couple of tiny dry looking seeds could actually produce flowers and fruit…I had tomatoes and sunflowers, sweet peas and Nasturtiums, kale and beetroot. And cucumber!

We all know that if you open a packet of seeds and find tiny looking withered pieces of matter that for all intents and purposes look dead. We know that if you plant at the right time, weed often, water frequently and have the right amount of sun, you will be blessed with a bumper crop to enjoy and share with family and friends, or to provide colour and scents in the garden.

Could it be that Jesus’ focus on the wheat seed falling to the ground and dying may have actually been on the process it takes to produce the fruit– to diligently prepare the soil, plant, water, weed and constantly tend to the seeds…….in order to produce the wheat!!

During our Lenten renewal, are we willing to be like garden seeds and risk being split apart so that we can renew ourselves and grow into a life rich with abundance to share with others? Are we willing to dedicate ourselves to growing our faith and our relationship with Christ so that we are not squandering God’s grace?

Equally as important, are we willing to let this be the time, let this be the hour for us …for God to nurture us, not by sun and water, but by His never-ending love and his promise to us each and every day?

“See, the days are coming” for God’s grace to enter our hearts.