THE SEARCH FOR JESUS IN OUR HEARTS HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT (YEAR B) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

SEEK AND FIND THE LORD

One problem with most Christians is the senseless search for God in different churches, prayer houses and among self-made “men and women” of God. These “wonder-workers” end up draining them financially and giving them false hope for riches and wealth; they would acquire without working, testimonies without a test, and Easter Sunday with a Good Friday. Unfortunately, we don’t see this religious harlotry among people of other religions against whom some of us claim superiority. Often, we look for things we already have in the wrong places and does that make any sense?

In the First Reading today (Jer.31:31-34), we hear Jeremiah giving the divine oracle after the religious reforms by king Josiah who began to rule when he was only eight years old. God decided to forgive the sins of the people after the years of their estrangement from Him. Furthermore, He promised to make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah:

I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord, All, from the least to the greatest, shall know me says the Lord.

In the past, God made a covenant with the people of Israel at Mount Sinai through Moses his servant. Afterward, the people were reminded each time about what God said. In fact, the public reading of the commandment was a regular ritual in the Synagogue. In the new covenant, God decided to put the law into our hearts, like software could be downloaded and activated on a computer. What is more interesting also is that the knowledge of God is engraved in our hearts.

God speaks to us in our hearts though His voice may not be as loud as most of the contending voices around us. The voice of God is present when our right and certain consciences trouble us over our actions and inactions. The voice of God speaks to us when we have that gentle push in our hearts to give up evil and do good. The knowledge of God in us often urges us to drop sin and take the route of righteousness. However, the decision to do all these depends on us.

The highpoint of the Gospel narrative today (John 12:20-33) is the search for Jesus by some Greeks who approached Philip, and  Andrew to assist them to have access to meet our Lord Jesus Christ. This would be the second time that the Gentiles would seek to see the Lord. The first was the wise men from the east during the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem (Matt 2:1-12). The question we could ask is “why the search for Jesus?” It will be proper for us to explore the previous events and they include the death of Lazarus and the miracle of his rising the dead, the plan to kill him (Lazarus), and our Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem.

One could say that the story of Jesus was widespread. Consequently, the Greeks who had come for the festival (the Passover) could have heard about the events and were curious, like every average Greek (Acts 17:20), to know more about the Lord and especially concerning the meaning of the rising from the dead to life. We know that the Greeks have a hard time believing in the resurrection as their encounter with Paul at Athens could attest (Acts 17:16-33).

We did not hear the Greeks ask our Lord any question when Andrew and Philip brought them, but the Gospel narrative says, “Jesus answered them…” (John 12:23). It is only rational to ask what question was he answering? Our Lord was answering the question in their hearts as he could see through them. The Gospel of John (2:24-25), tells us that he knows what is in everyone and there are other instances where he could read the heart of people (Matt. 12:25; 22:18; Luke 6:8; 11:17; 16:15).

Our Lord’s instruction to the Greek was about his on-coming suffering, death, and resurrection;

“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.”

In the hearts of the Greeks, Jesus should preserve his life and live it to the full, but our Lord answers and says to them,

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”

The Greeks wished they could also serve the Lord, but they questioned how they could abandon everything and become his followers and the Lord answers and says to them,

“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

The Gospel narrative did not give us the names of the Greeks who came searching for Jesus. In a sense, we are the new Greeks who are searching for Jesus Christ. The question is, “where do we search for the Lord?” They met Philip and Andrew who took them to the Lord, not to themselves. Today we have many “Philips” and “Andrews” who are making themselves “saviors” instead of directing people to the Savior.

The liturgy of this Sunday invites us to continue the search for Jesus Christ but to do so in our hearts where God has left the imprint of His commandment and salvific knowledge and where we can find Him. The search for Jesus in our hearts this season encourages us to do away with sin, to listen to the word of God and not to count on the sufferings of the moment but on the glory that lies ahead.

May you find the Lord in your hearts and get to know Him more intimately and obey Him more steadfastly. Have a great Sunday and a beautiful week ahead.

Fr. Bonnie.

2 Comments on “THE SEARCH FOR JESUS IN OUR HEARTS HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT (YEAR B) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

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