Year B: Fifth Sunday of Lent
First Reading: Jeremiah 31: 31-34
Today, we read the insights of another important figure in the Old Testament: the prophet Jeremiah. He has a reputation for preaching only bad news - but, as he lived at a time when Israel was far from being a light to the nations, there probably was not a lot of good news to be proclaimed.
The Reading today looks back to the days when God led His people out of Egypt and established the covenant between them. The covenant was broken over and over again and, by the time of Jeremiah, the people were living as if it had never existed. It was to take another Exile - this time in Babylon - to bring the people back to their senses.
It is almost as if God realises that “external” covenants are never going to work. Giving people a written Law has not changed their hearts - what is needed is something that lives and grows within them.
So, Jeremiah foretells the collapse of the nation of Israel and the bleak future that awaits it. But, in the midst of the misery, he discerns that hand of God and sees that God is doing something new: He is beginning to transform the people from the inside out. They will no longer need to be told what to do - what not to do - because the covenant will be sealed on their hearts and bounded in love.
We are close now to Holy Week - the Great Week - set apart to commemorate the establishment of that new Covenant of love through the sacrifice of Jesus. As the events of the Week unfold - we drink the cup of salvation - the blood of the new and everlasting covenant - and liturgically and spiritually, stand at the foot of the cross and wonder at so great a love.
What does it mean for me?