The Fifth Sunday of Lent
Psalm 51:3–4, 12–13, 14–15
Our readings today are filled with anticipation. The days are coming, Jeremiah prophesies in today’s First Reading. The hour has come, Jesus says in the Gospel. The new covenant that God promised to Jeremiah is made in the “hour” of Jesus—in His Death, Resurrection, and Ascension to the Father’s right hand.
The prophets said this new covenant would return Israel’s exiled tribes from the ends of the world (see Jeremiah 31:1, 3–4, 7–8). Jesus too predicted His passion would gather the dispersed children of God (see John 11:52). But today He promises to draw to Himself not only Israelites, but all men and women.
The new covenant is more than a political or national restoration. As we sing in today’s Psalm, it is a universal spiritual restoration. In the “hour” of Jesus, sinners in every nation can return to the Father—to be washed of their guilt and given new hearts to love and serve Him.
In predicting He will be “lifted up,” Jesus isn’t describing only His coming Crucifixion (see John 3:14–15). Isaiah used the same word to tell how the Messiah, after suffering for Israel’s sins, would be raised high and greatly exalted (see Isaiah 52:3). Elsewhere the term describes how kings are elevated above their subjects (see 1 Maccabees 8:13).
Troubled in His agony, Jesus doesn’t pray to be saved. Instead, as we hear in today’s Epistle, He offers himself to the Father on the Cross—as a living prayer and supplication. For this, God gives Him dominion over heaven and earth (see Acts 2:33; Philippians 2:9).
Where He has gone we can follow—if we let Him lead us. To follow Jesus means hating our lives of sin and selfishness. It means trusting in the Father’s will, the law He has written in our hearts. Jesus’ “hour” continues in the Eucharist, where we join our sacrifices to His, giving God our lives in reverence and obedience—confident He will raise us up to bear fruits of holiness.