5th Sunday Of Lent
Cycle B | 18/03/18
Jer. 31: 31-34
Heb. 5: 7-9
Jn. 12: 20-33
INTRODUCTION: As Lent comes to its climax, the Church in today’s Liturgy puts before us a very important text in Jeremiah 31:31 – “The days are coming, says the Lord when I will make a new Covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah: I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts.”
This is a central text to remember every time we attend Mass because Jesus called it to mind on the night before he died when he took a cup filled with wine and said: “This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal Covenant.” What Jesus was saying was the Covenant Jeremiah predicted long ago has come true now in the new Covenant “in his blood”.
(1) In the O.T. God made a series of covenants with his People: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, which was like a wedding vow. The standard formula was “I will be your God; you will be my people.” At the heart of the Covenant was the Law. God makes a series of demands on his people. If you are to become a member of my family or my people, you have to behave in a certain way or conform your life to the divine law: circumcision during the time of Abraham; the Torah during Moses; temple sacrifices during David’s.
The same obtains when we join a society of people who play a specific sport or an instrument. We are made to do things that are extrinsic to us or demands that are hard to live up to like the drills one makes in learning a game or a musical instrument but, when one gets them, they become so much a part of the player. So it was with Israel who found such teacher or coach like Jeremiah so tough a task master in his whole Book except this one sunburst that one day the Lord will write his laws in the hearts of his people that they will effortlessly fulfill the Law.
(2) In the N.T. Jesus’ blood poured in sacrifice on the Cross is the new Cove- nant. Who is this Jesus Christ? Not just one more prophet like Jeremiah; not just one great figure like Moses, but the Word/Logos/Reason/God made flesh. When we take his flesh to eat and drink his blood, we take him in our body and we become conformed to the Torah. We eat and drink the Law which formerly in the O.T. existed in stone or in printed page.
Now the Law is indeed written in our hearts because we take and eat the Law so that it becomes bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh. Now we move and act effortlessly like sports master or master violinist transposed in the moral or spiritual order because we have been schooled under the master teacher or coach Jesus.
(3) In the teachings of the Church Fathers, the Eucharist Christifies or deifies us. It makes us participate in the Divine Life. St. Thomas Aquinas calls all the sacraments “signs of the New Law” but now within us and the greatest of them all is the Eucharist because in all the rest what is received is the power but in the Eucharist “ipse Christus.” No wonder then that Vatican II calls the Eucharist the source and summit “fons et culmen” of Christian Life.
CONCLUSION: Remember, Oh Christian, what you receive when you approach the table to eat the body and blood of Christ. Take care that you become what you eat!
Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, DD
Bishop of Novaliches