Homily 5th Sunday of Lent 17th March 2024

Homily 5th Sunday of Lent 17th March 2024

Right from the very opening verses of John’s Gospel he proclaims with a calm, serene certitude that Christ is the Son of God. He is God. For John, what he observes and sees and hears is the least important dimension of what happened whenever Christ and humankind interacted. What really matted was the interpretation Christ gave to each event, what it meant to him. Because through that, human beings could come to know what each event in their lives means to God, what is in his mind.

It is the perceptive eye of John’s inspired faith that probes beneath the surface, and reveals for us what is really happening in the death of Christ. John, so clearly sees that this is not simply a matter of a good man facing death. Rather, it is a matter of the infinitely creative power of God confronting face to face the weakness, the destructiveness of human nature. Since nothing that God touches can remain the same, John sees God again transforming the world and human experience…not re-creating it.

So that from then on, for those who follow Christ, even death was to become an experience of God’s love, God’s creative power. No longer a pointless waste, it was to become somehow sacred and valuable. An old order was about to pass away and something very new indeed was about to begin.

In Christ’s own words in today’s Gospel, ‘Judgment is being passed’ on the world as it is now, it is about to be changed. It is no accident that John records this insight immediately after Christ’s explicit acceptance of his passion, and the Father’s explicit affirmation of what was about to happen.

Christ says, “should I try to avoid this? This is why I came.” Then he asks the Father to identify himself with his mission, “Glorify your name.” John presents the Father’s response as a voice from heaven, “I have done so, and shall again.”

With that divine transformation of the human condition, even human suffering, had begun. As Christ accepts what is in store for him, the death of a human being had already begin to be a divine act, a rebirth into new life. Again, in Christ’s words, “As it is for me so it shall be for everyone. When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”

As we have, I hope, begun to chip away at our dependence on satisfaction, on comfort, we should be freer than ever to see with John beneath the surface of what is going on around us, and be able to say with Christ that whatever dying to self we may have been able to accomplish this lent has been far more than simply morbid breast-beating.

It has been an act of divinely creative power, and by means of it, the old order, the old dependence with its limitations and frustrations is indeed being overthrown.

Fr Andrew