Did Last Lent Ever End?

March 21, 2021   Fifth Sunday of Lent Year B (Lectionary: 35)

Reading I   Jer 31:31-34
The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers
the day I took them by the hand
to lead them forth from the land of Egypt;
for they broke my covenant,
and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD.
But this is the covenant that I will make
with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.
I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives
how to know the LORD.
All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD,
for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.

Responsorial Psalm   51:3-4, 12-13, 14-15
R. (12a) Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness;
in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense.
Thoroughly wash me from my guilt
and of my sin cleanse me.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
A clean heart create for me, O God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
and your Holy Spirit take not from me.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.
Give me back the joy of your salvation,
and a willing spirit sustain in me.
I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners shall return to you.
R. Create a clean heart in me, O God.

Reading II   Heb 5:7-9
In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears
to the one who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered;
and when he was made perfect,
he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Verse Before the Gospel   Jn 12:26
Whoever serves me must follow me, says the Lord;
and where I am, there also will my servant be.

Gospel   Jn 12:20-33
Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast
came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee,
and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”
Philip went and told Andrew;
then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.
Jesus answered them,
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me.

“I am troubled now. Yet what should I say?
‘Father, save me from this hour’?
But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven,
“I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”
The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder;
but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.”
Jesus answered and said,
“This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.
Now is the time of judgment on this world;
now the ruler of this world will be driven out.
And when I am lifted up from the earth,
I will draw everyone to myself.”
He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

By Victoria Mastrangelo

We are a year into a pandemic that was only supposed to last a few weeks or months, but definitely not a year. This year has brought a lot of suffering, stress, and death. I heard a lot of people’s surprise when Lent came back around.

Did last Lent ever actually end?

As I reflect on this year, it feels like parts of myself are dying or have died. Death is not always a definitive end. Jesus reminds me in the Gospel today that things sometimes have to die in order to bear fruit. Things must die in order for new life to resurrect.

Jesus boldly states that “Whoever loves his life loses it.”

As I think about this past year, I realize that what has been dying is my love for my life. I had thought that all the loss this year and the stress that has come with it has made life unbearable - I lost the life I planned and executed.

With seemingly not much else to lose, this Lent is teaching me that my love for life that’s been lost is necessary.

I need to love the life God has planned and is trying to execute for me, not only the life that I built on my own. 

The death that is occurring in me is a death to self-sufficiency and the fruit being born is an attempt at total dependence on God.

Jesus continues by proclaiming “Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.” In my life, I have been dedicated to my relationship with Jesus but most often only to the point that He does what I want or serves me and the plans I have made and worked toward.

When His will aligned with my own goals, it was easy to believe that I was truly serving Him.

The loss of a lot of comfort and a lot of my own work and plans has coincided with a world in which many of us are not free to pursue our own wills at the same pace or level as before. The pain that has so defined this last year for me has felt like a punishment.

What I am starting to see now is that they are growing pains.

The pains that come from the pruning that Jesus is often calling us to do.

The pains that come from moving out of a mold of my own making into that of Christ’s making. The pains of the death of a self-made life and rebirth into following the One who gives life. Looking forward during this seemingly unending Lent, I need to reflect inward on what has died, why it needed to die, and what fruit may be born from it.


Victoria Mastrangelo is a wife, mother of three, and high school theology teacher in Houston. She loves to read multiple books at once, research, write, drink coffee, and travel, as her dream job is to be a perpetual student. Her favorite saints are Edith Stein, Ignatius of Loyola, Dorothy Day and John Paul II which tell you a lot about her spirituality and love of the feminine genius and social justice. You can find her on Instagram here and more of her writing here.

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