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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, March 25, 2012

By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service


March 25, Fifth Sunday of Lent

Cycle B. Readings:

1) Jeremiah 31:31-34

Psalm 51:3-4, 12-15

2) Hebrews 5:7-9

Gospel: John 12:20-33

When my youngest daughter was about 8 years old, I arranged a birthday party for her and her friends at a popular store that caters to girls that age by enabling them to choose and construct their own stuffed bears. After selecting an empty outer "shell," the girls would excitedly watch while a machine stuffed the toy.

Then came the highlight: when each child would take a red satin heart, pronounce a wish on it and ceremoniously insert it into the bear, making it uniquely hers. Once the bear was stitched closed, it was lovingly given an air "bath" and dressed in a carefully chosen outfit. The entire process -- a clever marketing strategy -- was designed to create a special bond between the stuffed bear and its "creator." Of course, this all came at a price for unsuspecting parents!

In today's readings, the prophet Jeremiah proclaims a promise of hope from the Lord to his people who have been alienated and exiled both physically and spiritually. The covenantal bond that they had made with their Creator and marked with tablets of stone had been broken through their unfaithfulness, but not completely destroyed.

A new kind of covenant, one of forgiveness and mercy, would be written on their hearts. As the psalmist describes it, the compassion of God renews the heart of the repentant sinner and creates for him or her a "clean heart."

But this, too, comes at a price much dearer than we can even imagine. The Gospel reminds us that the forgiveness of sin and the renewal of hearts prophesied by Jeremiah are won for us through the sacrificial love of our Creator who took on human flesh and offered it freely in death. But when we in turn freely accept this gift and die to ourselves, we not only preserve our lives but we bear much fruit.

Lent summons us back from the self-centered, empty shells of our lives to a renewed covenantal bond with our Creator who promises mercy and forgiveness. It calls us to the renewal of our baptismal bath and the clothing of new life in Christ, who has placed his loving heart into each one of us who belong to him.

QUESTIONS:

In what way has sin and unfaithfulness made you broken, empty and far from the Lord? What words of Christ are being spoken to your renewed heart?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:33).

END



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