Fifth Sunday in Lent

Spiritual Eyes

We begin with a pivotal point in the earthly ministry of Jesus. Reading from the Gospel of John:

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.    (John 12:1-7)

Jesus had been teaching his disciples that he would enter Jerusalem and be arrested and ultimately killed, and that he would rise again on the third day. His disciples did not understand what he was saying and were not prepared for what was about to take place.

For Judas, it was business as usual. The other disciples of Jesus did not speak out against what he said. Only Jesus spoke up for Mary of Bethany. Jesus understood who Mary was. Remarkably, Mary bettered understood who Jesus was than his disciples.

What did Mary understand? She certainly must not have fully understood the ministry of Jesus. But she was aware of what he would soon be facing. Jesus said: “She bought the perfume so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.” Mary knew in the Spirit something terrible was about to happen.

God spoke through the Prophet Isaiah:

Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.   (Isaiah 43:18-19)

God was about to do a new thing. He would provide a way for our new creation n Christ Jesus that only he could establish. The disciples of Jesus could not perceive it. They were stuck on the old. Are we stuck on the old today?

Mary was more attuned to what God was doing because of her love for Jesus brought here near to the heart of God. She had spiritual eyes because she was attuned to the Spirit of God. She longed to see and understand all that God was doing and would be doing. Is that who we are?

The Apostle Paul wrote:

Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.   (Philippians 3:13-14)

Paul did not want to hold onto the past. His concern was answering the heaven call. We, too, have heavenly call.

God is doing a new thing. He is doing a new thing in our nations all over the world. He is doing a new thing in our churches. And he is asking us: “Do you not perceive it?” A great awakening is occurring

God also wants to do a new thing in our lives. Do we perceive it? It is a matter of our answering the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

The psalmist wrote:

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
then were we like those who dream.

Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy.

Those who sowed with tears
will reap with songs of joy.

Those who go out weeping, carrying the seed,
will come again with joy, shouldering their sheaves.   (Psalm 126:1-2, 6-7)

Some of us have been dreaming. But many are now awake. Those who sowed with tears are the intercessors. Some of you are intercessors.  You have helped pave the way for us. Let us all grab onto the new thing God is doing.

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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, Lent, liturgical preaching, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, Year C

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