“Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness…”

Fifth Sunday of Lent


First reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm: 50:3-4.12-15
Second reading: Hebrews 5:7-9
Gospel: John 12:20-30


The readings of this fifth Sunday of Lent help us to reflect on a quite interesting topic: making mistakes.

In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah tells us that the ancestors of the House of Israel and the House of Judah broke the covenant with the Lord. While the background of the Psalm is the sin of adultery and murder that king David committed against Bathsheba and her husband.

It could happen also in our daily lives: we really would like to avoid mistakes. We would always like to know what thing is right for us and also to be able to put it into action. Sometimes it is so hard to make the right choice! It often looks like we have managed to do that… and then, one hour later we find ourselves struggling to stick to our purposes.

Making mistakes may seem to us like “a sort of death”: we might feel a bit desperate, unable to hope anymore, incapable of believing that our wrong actions do not lead us to a point of no return, but there will still be something good for us.

Our God is the only person who does not get tired of dealing with mankind: he wants to continue to create a relationship with each of us, he wants to make a “new covenant” with us, as he did with the people of Israel and of Judah, which he had chosen as his own people. Deep within them I will plant my Law, writing it on their hearts. Then I will be their God and they shall be my people (Jer 31:33).

King David failed, but afterwards he repented and returned to the Lord. And he could write the Psalm 50 and sing God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Then, we can understand the reason why the Father’s answer to his Son’s prayers may seem strange, since He left him dying from a cruel and painful death, on the cross. We might be brought to think that the Father was wrong, but instead, Jesus’ sacrifice turned up to be the source of eternal salvation.

Our God does not avoid us suffering, pain and difficulty, but he can make us stronger than all these kinds of hardship. God, then, made the right and most perfect choice for our sake. This world is corrupted, unfaithful, insecure, but the Father did not send Jesus in another different world but in ours. Our human nature is fragile, wavering, fickle, sinful, but the Almighty One did not choose for his only Son other nature but ours. Jesus knows what dying means: he was the wheat grain, fallen on the ground of the earth and able to produce a rich harvest. Jesus can repeat to each of us: “and when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32).

When we are struggling with any difficulty, we may look at Jesus, who is on the cross like us and with us: we may be sure that he is very close to us and he can make us experience a new life… by the power of his Resurrection!

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