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Reflection for the 5th Sunday of Lent Year B 2024

“Circumcision of the Heart”

PRIMEIRA LEITURA: Jeremiah 31:31-34 | Salmo: Psalms 51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15 | Segunda Leitura: Hebrews 5:7-9

Evangelho: John 12:20-33

This Sunday’s Reflection is by; Fr. Dansou ASSIONGBON Attivi Edoh Jean-Paul, SJ.

Executive Director

Centres Sociaux Loyola (CSL), Togo.

In today’s psalm (Psalm 50) God is asking us to create a pure heart. Why a pure heart? For it is precisely the place of conversion, the propitious place where the encounter between man’s misery and God’s infinite mercy takes place in truth. Since the beginning of Lent we have been confronted with the quality of our hearts and the Lord’s desire: “change your hearts and believe the good news” and prophet Joel insists on this “Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” (Joel 2:13). We can only make a true conversion if the Lord tears or circumcises our hearts. Let’s look at the different pictures presented by the news on the media: wars, violence, terrorism, assassinations, homicides, infanticide (abortion legislation). All this testifies that the heart of man is sick, and it is far from being healthy.

For his part, the prophet Jeremiah experienced the failure of God’s covenant with our fathers in the wilderness. According to him, it was a carnal covenant where the laws were not internalized and lived as a free gift for liberation from slavery and sin and not only deliverance from the hand of Pharaoh. Seeing the unfaithfulness of the people and of the chief priests of the nations denounced by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 36:14), God himself undertakes to educate his people by directly instructing them; Talk to him heart to heart. In spite of this thoughtfulness and determination of the Lord, there is a need for man’s free and gratuitous response. Accept to open oneself to welcome this new Alliance. What is a wedding ring?

This is the condition for being in relationship with God. By definition, the divine covenant is a sovereign declaration by God by which he engages his responsibility. In other words, the covenant is established to regulate the relationship between God and His creatures[1]. As a result, God again makes a commitment to help His people walk according to His laws. In this new covenant, which is meant to be a circumcision of the heart, God reveals to us his meekness and long-suffering. He is a God who does not despair and does everything possible for the salvation of the human race.

In the Greeks’ request to see Jesus, he takes the opportunity to specify what constitutes the quality of a disciple: Fidelity and Passion for the proclamation of the Good News. Loyalty and passion that nothing can stop, not even death. Jesus rejoiced at the interest that strangers showed in him during his lifetime. And even more so, his death, which could be interpreted as a failure, will rather be a sign of hope and the growth of the Kingdom. Yes, the disciple is the one who lives trials in obedience to the Master. We may hear or encounter Christians who often link their trials either to the curse or to divine punishment or vengeance. What would God gain by causing the sinner to suffer or be punished? Like Jesus, let us let God be glorified in our sufferings and let us keep the hope that our sacrifice and acceptance of events, especially sad and unfortunate, will draw men and women to our Lord. Let us go forward towards Easter with confidence, being obedient and docile to the Holy Spirit, so that the joy of the resurrection may live and be manifested in us; and may our hearts be circumcised again and restored to the New Covenant.

Reference: [1]

Pe. Matambura Ismael, SJ



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