Fifth Sunday in Lent

I Will Write My Law on their Hearts

Do we seek the Lord with all our hearts? God seeks us with all his heart, to place his commandments within our hearts. He spoke through the Prophet Jeremiah:

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.   (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Those days have come. Do we know the Lord? The psalmist wrote:

How shall a young man cleanse his way?
By keeping to your words.

With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not stray from your commandments.

I treasure your promise in my heart,
that I may not sin against you.

Blessed are you, O Lord;
instruct me in your statutes.

With my lips will I recite
all the judgments of your mouth.

I have taken greater delight in the way of your decrees
than in all manner of riches.

I will meditate on your commandments
and give attention to your ways.

My delight is in your statutes;
I will not forget your word.   (Psalm 119:9-16)

The psalmist knew how we should open up our hearts to God. Jeremiah shared the path we should take

Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.   (Jeremiah 29:12-13)

God wants to pour his Word into our hearts. Jesus has paid a great price so that he may be able to do that. He speaks to us today:

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.”   (John 12:23-26)

If we are to seek God with all our hearts, we must be willing to die to ourselves. This means different things to different people. Most of us know what we are still holding back. It is time to let go. The Apostle wrote:

What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.   (Romans 6:1-4)

It is not so hard to let go of something when we realize how much more we gain. Jesus told his disciples:

“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?”   (Matthew 16:24-26)

Our life is on the line, both now and eternally. We can have an abundant life right now, but not by the standards of the world. We can live in the kingdom of  God now. The Apostle Paul tells us that mean: righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). God will write his laws on our heart and they will be easy to follow. We will still be living in the world, but will not be of the world. This world is passing away. The new world, God’s world, will never end.

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Filed under Eucharist, Gospel, homily, Jesus, Lent, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon development, Year B

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