What Will You Do With Jesus?

Homily for the 5th Sunday of Lent, 2021

What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus, the Christ? Is being a Christian simply about being a good person? Is being a Christian based solely upon a one-time profession of faith? Or, is there more to this Christian thing than modern Church of Nice christians teach?


The various seasons of the Catholic Church year have been purposefully designed to guide Catholic Christians on a spiritual journey of enlightenment. Throughout our three year cycle of readings we are presented with teachings that should, with prayer and diligence, help us to truly understand the depth of what it means to be fully inculcated in the life of the Church.


On virtually every page of scripture, in both testaments, we find instructions in both faith and morals, the very precepts which our Most High God expect of us. In a very real sense, as the Prophet Jeremiah proclaimed, the moral precepts of God are already, indelibly written in our hearts. However, due to pride and hardness of heart, many, if not most, reject that still small voice that that prompts us to avoid immoral thoughts and actions.


Today’s readings present us with several options to choose from. A parish priest, pastor, or bishop needs to choose which message is best suited to the needs of his particular community. Should we focus today on God’s demands for righteousness, or His effluent love for us that prompted him to the Cross?


But why should we have to choose? They are both intimately connected.


As the Apostle suggests today’s reading in Hebrews, we must learn obedience, and follow in Christ’s example. We must put aside our personal fears, wishes and desires, in favor of doing the Father’s divine will. Because, as St. Paul tells us in Romans, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” What does it mean to be “in the flesh”? That simply means to care more about the things of this life more than the things of the Spirit. What is the most important thing in your life, right now? What is motivating your actions. Are you motivated by the finer things of life, a bigger home, a fancy car, jewelry, sports, or any number of things? Do you put any of these things, even family above your love of God? The lusts of the flesh and the pride of life, and earthly possessions are huge distractions that if not kept in check, will interfere with our spiritual growth, and relationship with God. How in the world can anyone truly become aligned with the will of God while being only partially committed to serving Him. Too many of us have divided loyalties, not truly submitting ourselves to God’s Lordship over our lives.


Take a moment in honest reflection...


How much time do you devote solely to God in a given week? Does God rate more than a couple of hours on an occasional Sunday? The mantra for many is that attending Church isn’t really necessary. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard someone say that “I’ve got a relationship with God, I don’t need to go to Church.” My friends, every single relationship requires nurturing to grow and remain in tact. It is simply another lie of the evil one that whispers that it’s okay not to go; or, going to the ball game on Sunday won’t interfere with my spirituality.”


Another evil message percolating through modernist churches is that “god is speaking a different message to the church today.” My sisters and brothers, modern teachings that suggest that ancient moral teachings were some how only applicable for times past are leading many in this present generation to the pit of hell! New age moral teachings are reminiscent of the Serpent’s deceptive word’s to Eve in the Garden saying “God didn’t really mean that,” (paraphrased).


One thing abundantly clear in my mind is that God’s word succinctly proclaims both wisdom and truth. Nothing in the written Word suggests that God’s moral code changes with the passing of time or that it is subject to politically correct ideology.


That’s the crux of the matter, as I see it. Modernist theologians have become highly adept at removing God from the equation. It’s little wonder that so many are leaving traditional churches or staying away from Church altogether these days. When you remove divine inspiration from the biblical texts, you also remove Godly authority. In that mindset, biblical writings become simply writings of men, who are culturally out of touch with our modern wisdom. But, remember the biblical injunction: in “proclaiming themselves to be wise, they’ve became fools.”


Today’s readings from John’s Gospel are powerful examples, not only of Jesus’ power over death, and of His divine authority, it was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Yes, the life and ministry of Jesus was foretold in the Hebrew Scriptures and fulfilled in the presence of numerous people so that we would know, without a doubt that God’s word is true. The same Jesus that raised Lazarus from the dead, and He Himself was resurrected, has Surely proven to be faithful to do the same for those who “trust in the Lord, and are called according to His purposes.” Through His divine acts, “He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”

So, as we enter the last week of Lent this year, the question becomes, what will you do with Jesus in your own life? Will you make Him a priority? Will you “obey Him, or will you simply continue putting god in second or third place in your life? Does God even make it to third place? Being a follower of Jesus requires more than paying Him Lip-service, but actually doing something radically different than the secular world considers normal. It requires putting God in 1st place. That means that everything else in life takes second place to following His Will for your life. For many this will be a price that is too high to pay. In truly following Jesus, some will lose jobs, family, and friends. Others have lost their lives for their faith in Christ. The Authentic Christian message is actually contrary to what modern politically correct churches teach — radically different.


This Lent, I’m making a conscious decision to follow Christ, no matter the costs even unto death, as the Apostle Thomas bemoaned. I choose to believe the moral teachings that have been passed down through the apostles and their successors from the beginning of the Church age. I choose to reject modern politically correct “wisdom“ that relegates scripture to being merely writings of men, removing divine authority. I choose to do the will of the Father in all things, placing my own wants, needs and desires subservient to His.


What will you do with Jesus?

+++++

FIRST READING

Jeremiah 31:31–34


The days are 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 I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant, and I had to show myself their master, 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 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 least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more. or:


Ezekiel 37:12–14

Thus says the LORD God:


O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.


SECOND READING

Hebrews 5:7–9


In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. or:

Romans 8:8–11

Brothers and sisters:

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.

GOSPEL

John 12:20–33

Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “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. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me. “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours. Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” He said this indicating the kind of death he would die. or:

Longer Form John 11:1–45

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil and dried his feet with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill. So the sisters sent word to Jesus saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If one walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks at night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He said this, and then told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him.” So the disciples said to him, “Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.” But Jesus was talking about his death, while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep. So then Jesus said to them clearly, “Lazarus has died. And I am glad for you that I was not there, that you may believe. Let us go to him.” So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”


When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying, “The teacher is here and is asking for you.” As soon as she heard this, she rose quickly and went to him. For Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still where Martha had met him. So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

or:

Shorter Form John 11:3–7, 17, 20–27, 33b–45


The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.” But some of them said, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay across it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus raised his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you for hearing me. I know that you always hear me; but because of the crowd here I have said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” And when he had said this, He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in a cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

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