A Few Thoughts for the Final Days
First Reading: God says to Jeremiah that his new covenant will not be like the covenant he made with their fathers “the day he took them by the hand.” It seems that God makes covenants with us throughout our lives and, along the way, they change. Have you ever arrived at a point and said to yourself (or maybe even to God) “This isn’t what I signed up for”? I wonder if perhaps sometime after Confirmation God stops “taking us by the hand” and expects more and more and more of us. At some point, though, we should feel some deepening of our covenants with God, some accomplishment or some wisdom acquired. “All from least to greatest, shall know me….” Let’s see. Do I really know God better at my age or am I just more confused?
Second Reading: Most scholars hold that Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews is his declaration of Jesus as Supreme (once and for all) High Priest. “Prayers, loud cries, and tears,” the letter says, Jesus addressed “to the one who was able to save him from death” and he was heard “because of his reverence.” It goes on to claim that Jesus “learned obedience from what he suffered.” It is hard for me to visit hospitals and hospices and find words for those who are obviously in pain and who are truly suffering. Perhaps there is something in this letter that at least enlightens us about suffering, if perceived with eyes of faith. Certainly Paul would have us believe that all suffering is priestly—it is about universal priesthood in union with the High Priest. Suffering is dignified it its power to be “salvific.”
And The Gospel: Soon we will be “all about and all over” the Passion and Death of Jesus. Each of today’s readings is a form of preparation. But the Gospel all the more so:
“…unless the grain of wheat falls to the ground, it remains just a grain of wheat”; “I am troubled now. Yet what should I say? Father, save me from this hour?” “…when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” Imagine such claims and how they must have affected the people who heard them, then and there. When all is said and done for a Christian, everything—EVERYTHING—hinges on the Resurrection.
May the Lord richly bless our rapidly approaching Holy Week journey as Church local and as Church Universal.