THE DAYS ARE COMING...
FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT
The days are coming (Jr 31: 31). We hear these words in the first reading of this coming 5th Sunday of Lent. They express the hope of people who believe in God as Master of history. Indeed, the hope in a better future is a constant certitude of the people of Israel. Their hope relies not on the trust that God will give them a better ruler. They long for a better future, confident that God always fulfil his promises. One of the tasks of the prophets of the bible is to point out to those “days” when God, in his mercy, will restore his covenant with his people. The days when He will be their God and they will be his people (Jr 31: 33).
Every Sunday, Christians profess their faith in God, the Father almighty, Creator or heaven and earth (first article of the Creed). In so doing, they trust their lives in the hands of God to whom belong all thrones or dominions or principalities or powers (Col 1: 16). As the prophet Jeremiah, every disciple of Christ is called to be a witness to this hope who never fails.
In a context like ours here in Sierra Leone, after a passionate time of elections and while waiting for their outcome and the future for the country, we need other prophets to cry out saying: “See, the days are coming...It is the Lord who speaks”...Yes, our history is in the hands of the Lord and not in the hands of any human ruler! Failing to profess clear this confidence, we allow uncertainties, anxieties and fear to defeat us!
On this 5th Sunday, we hear Greek people- Jewish from diaspora - who came to Jerusalem to worship at the festival. Though they are not Christians, they want to see Jesus. The Lord responds to this request with a long and profound meditation on “the hour”. The hour in the Gospel of John is the time of glorification. It is the time when the Son of man will be lifted up (Jn12: 32). It is the time when Jesus freely gives his life for our salvation (Jn10: 18). The “hour” is the time of hope, because it’s the time of our redemption.
Therefore, the parable of the Gospel about the wheat which dies and produces a rich harvest (Jn 12: 24) refers to the life of Jesus himself. By his passion and death of the Cross, he who loses his life, gains us life. Through his sufferings, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation (He 5: 9). The disciples Philip and Andrew, in interceding for the Greeks, they are helping them to meet with the one who fulfils the promised of Israel. In Him, “the days to come” are now a reality. God has answered by rising up Jesus Christ from the dead. As Christians, are we not called to be other Philip and Andrew today?
The journey of Lent leads us to the “hour” of our salvation. On this journey, we follow a God who shares in human sufferings, a God whose love does not remain aloof and distant, but comes into our midst, even enduring death on a cross (cf. Philippians 2:8). Journeying towards the Joy of Easter, we are not left alone. In fact, the fruits of the grain of wheat that dies reach us daily in the sacraments. In the Holy Eucharist, the fruits of Jesus’ death and resurrection are continually at our hands. In the sacrament of confession, we enjoy the fruits of God’s forgiveness and mercy. In the sacraments, Jesus Christ continually becomes an ever present Emmanuel, God walking ever anew a part of our history.
Further to the Christian practices we are always invited to rediscover in lent: almsgiving, fasting and prayer, the readings of this Sunday indicate to us other path: to grow in “hope” which the word of God describes also as “fullness of faith” (He 10: 22). In his encyclical letter On Christian Hope (2017), Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that: “having faith means to have a trustworthy hope, when we compare the Christian life with life prior to faith, or with the situation of the followers of other religions. Paul reminds the Ephesians that before their encounter with Christ they were “without hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12). Of course he knew they had had gods, he knew they had had a religion, but their gods had proved questionable, and no hope emerged from their contradictory myths. Notwithstanding their gods, they were “without God” and consequently found themselves in a dark world, facing a dark future”n°2.
As we are waiting in faith the feast of Easter, the feast of the resurrection of Jesus, the feast of our salvation, may we grow stronger in faith which by its very nature "works through love" (Ga 5:6). May we grow in hope that the days that are coming, “God is in control”…by “God’s grace” tomorrow will be better as Salone people like to repeat!