Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 315

Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord,
when I will conclude a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead
them forth from the land of Egypt;

In today's first reading the Author of Hebrews recalls the prophecy of Jeremiah, that God would create a new covenant with his people. 

Clearly, in the time of Jeremiah, the time had come for a new covenant. The covenant people took for granted was promised to King David and his descendants. The King would rule in Jerusalem over the nation of Judah and its capital Jerusalem forever

Forever is a very long time. It doesn't seem so very long when one is living in the present. Why should not the United States dominate the world's military, economic, social and political landscapes forever? But historically, forever is too much to expect. Three thousand years after the death of King David, 2400 years after the end of his descendants ruled in Jerusalem, forever sounds like an impossible dream. From this perspective we can be astonished that David's heirs ruled as long as they did, especially in that part of the world. 

By the time of Jeremiah, David's kingdom was collapsing under the invasions of Syrians, Babylonians, Persians and Egyptians. Greeks and Romans would add to their national distress. 

The old order was passing away; a new kind of religion was called for, one which might be practiced in the Jewish home or town far from Jerusalem. The devout Jew might make the pilgrimage to the Holy City once in a lifetime from Babylonia, Egypt or Spain, but they would have to practice their religion in far different ways than they had while Judah lasted.

In today's gospel we hear of Jesus' establishing his new covenant by naming twelve apostles. This symbolic number recalled the twelve sons of Jacob and the legendary twelve tribes of Israel. That particular amphyctiony flourished during the time of the Judges and disappeared when King David established his kingdom in Jerusalem, about 1000 BC. 

Jesus' Twelve Apostles survived only a little while. After the death of Judas Iscariot, the apostles invited Matthias to take his place; but as a group they disappeared when James (the Greater) was beheaded. No one was appointed to take his place and the twelve did not appear as a group even when Peter, James (the Lesser) and Paul met in Jerusalem for the first "council" of the Church. 

Through all these historic changes the Lord is faithful to his word, "Remember, I am with you always." He had promised his abiding presence to Abraham and his descendants, to Moses in the desert, to David and his heirs, and to the Church. Human institutions appear and disappear but the Word of God abides forever. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.