Friday, January 23, 2009

Behold, The Day Is Coming, When I Will Make A New Covenant With My People

Today’s first reading continues the teaching of the Letter to the Hebrews about Jesus, the High Priest. He is the mediator of a new covenant, better than the covenant between God and Israel.

Why, you might ask, is there a need of a new covenant? There would be no need for a second one, if the first covenant had been faultless. Yet, even the Hebrew Scriptures reveal that God found fault with the covenant he made with Israel. Listen to the words of Jeremiah:

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with my people. It won’t be like the one I made when I led them out of Egypt into a land of their own. They did not keep my covenant, and I let them be. But the day is coming when my law will no longer be written on tablets of stone, but on the human heart. The day is coming when there will no longer be a need for parents to teach their children to know the Lord, for they all will know me, and they will do my will, and I will not keep memory of their sins.

In today’s gospel, Jesus fulfills one of the first steps in establishing the new covenant. He went up the mountain and called those he had chosen, and they came to him. From among them, he chose twelve, who would stay with him, and whom he would sent forth to preach, and teach, and drive out demons. The twelve chosen were: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and his brother, John; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon, and Judas Iscariot, the one who would betray him.

These twelve, the Apostles, were called “to be with him”, and “to be sent forth”. Seems contradictory, doesn’t it? How can they be with him, if he sends them out? It is because Jesus is always with his disciples, whether they are sharing supper with him, or whether they are going into the world to tell other people about him. Every disciple is called not only to stay with him, but to go out to others. Prayer and action, said Catherine of Siena, are like our two feet: we need them both if we are going to walk in his Way.

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