Homily – 5th Sunday of Lent

How many of us drive cars? Show of hands, please. Who drives? And you willingly drive in Brooklyn? Interesting. Now, when we are driving, how many of us have come to complete rely on our Waze or on our GPSes to get us anywhere? Who now completely relies on somebody else guiding our journey? Me. Know how many of us this morning are always on time? Who is always on time? Who is sometimes on time. Who is never on time. Ah. See, there’s a little bit of everything. Well, what does driving the car, G.P.S. and being on time, what do they have to do with each other?

Now. Very interesting. Yesterday, I was invited in my other capacity job to do an all day of prayer at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Astoria. So it began at eight in the morning and it was going to end at six in the evening. And I very dutifully said, I will be there on time.

So I got up, I’m in my car, I plug in Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and the G.P.S. takes me and I follow those directions perfectly and end up at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cemetery, not in the right place. So I said, okay, I still have time. I plugged in the address. Well, little did I know that in Queens there is a difference between Newtown Avenue and Newtown Road.

I went to the wrong one. Now I’m not going to be on time. So I finally get everything right. I followed the directions and I get there. But I am 7 minutes late and father has already started mass. But it’s okay. I went in, put on my vestments, got out there and said, I know how to make an entrance.

But see, I relied on G.P.S. to guide me on my journey. I lost track of the time. I didn’t get there at the right hour. It was my fault. Interestingly enough, today, all of those things being guided on the journey, recognizing the hour, being at the right time. They are what our readings are about today. So how many of us are relying on someone or something but not Jesus to guide us on our life’s journey?

How many of us are following the wrong directions and we’re not going to be there on time? And there is the Kingdom of Heaven. Interestingly enough, in today’s gospel reading, we have Greeks who come to Jerusalem and want to speak with Jesus. Now, Greeks clearly are not part of the community. They’re not even allowed in the temple. They can go to one spot of it.

But these great speakers go up to Phillip, and Phillip, which is not a Greek, is a Greek name, not a Jewish name. And they introduce them to Jesus. The time was right. They were being guided on their journey right to the Lord. And what does the Lord say to them? Now is the hour. The time is right. You’re here. I’m here. It’s time.

Isn’t it amazing that we think of time as a straight line? We get bored. We live our life. We go home to the Kingdom of God. Straight line. We get up in the morning, we get dressed, we go to work. We come home. Straight line. But God’s time is very different. We have the word chronology, straight line, Greek word, Cronus.

But there is another Greek word that the Greek speakers would have known. It’s kairos. It’s God’s time. And everything happens in God’s time when it’s supposed to. We think we are in control. But really, when we surrender our journey to the Lord, then we will always be there at the acceptable time. The right moment when the hour is perfect in God’s time.

There actually are three lessons in today’s Scriptures. First lesson All of today’s readings speak to us of time and have a connection with Jesus and His coming. Our Jeremiah the Prophet says the days are coming, the days of the Lord. And Jesus says, The days are here. The letters of the Hebrews spoke about in the days when Christ came in the flesh.

And we today celebrate in this hour of our liturgy that the flesh and blood of Jesus is real for us in the Eucharist. And then in the Gospel text, Jesus announces, The hour has come for those around Jesus. The Son of God was going to bring peace from the Romans. They were going to be thrown out of God’s kingdom, and the kingdom would be for the chosen people.

They absolutely had the wrong idea of what being glorified meant for Jesus. Being glorified meant his passion, His death, and his resurrection. The celebrations we begin next week in Holy Week. The parable of the seed that we heard today reminds us that each and every one during the season of Lent is call to prayer, self-sacrifice and charity. Dying a little bit to ourselves and allowing Jesus to truly live in us.

It is the exact opposite of what the Jewish community thought and what our culture says, where we’re supposed to be a little self centric. After all, it’s all about me. It’s all about living my life. It’s all about a false security that we create. But when we believe in the Lord, when we believe that self-sacrifice and prayer and loving God and our neighbor is really true life, then we begin to understand.

Jesus said in today’s Gospel For whoever would save a life will lose it. And whoever loses life for my sake and the sake of the gospel will save it. Amazing. As followers of Jesus, in order to bear fruit, we must be willing to die to ourselves and embrace Christ. Christ says to us that unless you’re willing to pick up your cross daily and follow me, you cannot be believers.

It’s very clear we are to be like Jesus. If we want to reach eternal, that is embracing our cross every day. This is at the heart of the matter. If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and carry his cross. It is exactly what Jesus says in today’s Gospel. If anyone serves me, let that one follow me.

Be a disciple. So what can we expect in being the disciples of Jesus? Well, the follower of the Lord will be in love with the Trinity, the Trinity that promises our one sure hope eternal life. We may find everything else very attractive, but we’re going to be surprised. Jesus Tells us that he must go so that we can follow him.

Where? Into eternal life. Jesus leads our journey to the Father. And that’s what every good disciple believes. And that’s why in Lent, we pray. We practice self-sacrifice. And we’re charitable because we are called to service. The service of God and our neighbor. So this morning, are we willing to allow Jesus to guide our journey? Because if we hesitate.

Just think of me yesterday lost in his story. And believe me, I saw more of a story than I ever wanted. The next time we’re a little hesitant about that, picking up the cross and following the Lord, let us remember that if we don’t stand at the foot of the cross, we can’t stand at the empty tomb. And the next time we’re tempted to be late, when we don’t necessarily wish the hour of the Lord to be at hand, let’s consider the option of missing out the Kingdom of God.

The time is now to be disciples of the Lord. The hour has come to proclaim Christ Jesus to the world and now our journey continues to the bright promise of everlasting life.