16 Mar 5th Sunday of Lent
5th Sunday of Lent
Dear OLPH Family and Friends,
On this Fifth Sunday of Lent we continue to hear of God making covenants with His People. This Covenant, however, is quite different. It won’t be written on stone. It won’t require physical signs of belonging (circumcision) and it doesn’t require anything from the people. God goes so far as to say “I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts.” I think it can safely be referred to as the “natural law.” St. Paul in one of his letters says “even the pagan knows in his heart when he has sinned.”
The context for this new covenant is part of God’s leading of his people back from exile. Like a new exodus, but without the trials of the desert, God is reconstituting the people and establishing a deeper bond with them than they had ever known. Jeremiah prophecies a more intense relationship with God. The people’s understanding of God and their relationship of love will be such that no one will need a written law.
Obviously, this is an ideal, one that is very close to what Jesus preached.
The people will not become sinless saints, but rather they will know who God is and what God is like. Jeremiah finishes with the promise, “I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” That is an ongoing promise. In an imperfect world, sin will be recognized for what it is: an abnormal way of behavior. The new covenant is one in which God is known above all else as the One whose great love offers continual forgiveness, thereby opening the way for ongoing conversion. This is God’s unilateral promise. The core of this new covenant has nothing to do with the people’s worthiness or good behavior, but rather God’s unrelenting love and will to save them. This means that there is nothing this people can do to turn God against them. Their God will always and forever be God for them.
Recognizing God’s desire to be one with us, the Responsorial Psalm becomes a prayer that should be on our lips and in our hearts constantly. Psalm 51 is one of the Penitential Psalms and is a reminder that God alone is the source of the grace that can transform us. It speaks of God’s unrelenting love and continual forgiveness. We pray this because we need to be reminded that God’s toward us is one of mercy and forgiveness of sin.
What Jeremiah promised is brought to fulfillment in Jesus. His hour had finally come and “His Glory”, the Cross, would bring that unconditional love and forgiveness into reality. Jesus continues to invite us into the intimacy of that love relationship. May our desire to be one with Him be supported with the prayer “Create a clean heart in me, O God!”
Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Joseph! Besides being the spouse of Mary and foster father of Jesus, St. Joseph is the Patron of the Universal Church. May he always be our model for making Jesus and Mary the most important people in our lives! Saturday, our RCIA candidates will be on retreat in preparation for full membership in the Church. Pray for them that they will always experience the love of Jesus in this community of faith. Next Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday. Weather permitting, we will gather in the patio in front of the church.
May Jesus be glorified in our lives!