Thursday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 410

The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.


When times are good the prophet predicts gloom and doom. When the times are dreadful, the prophet announces salvation.
Jeremiah's Jerusalem was sieged, sacked and destroyed. The ruins would collapse and the land would lie fallow for seventy years, until the governor Nehemiah, with the authority of the pagan emperor Cyrus, rebuilt the city.
Jeremiah, amid the smoldering desolation, imagined a nation without a nation, a religion without a homeland, a people whose "God is the Lord" living among strangers.
Perhaps their most peculiar trait -- other than their allegiance to a God who claimed to rule the Earth and all its inhabitants although his chosen people were subject to alien kings, emperors, dictators and presidents -- was their memory. Unlike the Americans who intentionally forget their European, Asian or African roots, the Jews would never forget Jerusalem.
If I forget you Jerusalem,
let my right hand wither
May my tongue stick to my palate
if I do not remember you,
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
beyond all my delights
.
Heirs of the Promise, Christians also anchor their traditions and memories in Jerusalem. We too abide in many nations and swear allegiance to many flags, but never forget that our homeland is elsewhere. 
I once read an essay by a Buddhist scholar who insisted the world's religions could come together and live peaceably if Jews, Christians and Muslims would only forget their peculiar fascination with the near east. What wonderful theologies we could make without reference to the Father of Jesus Christ!
How benign our world would be without these troublesome memories! Obviously, he knew nothing about us.
But this is the covenant that I will make
with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.
I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
I have spoken to innumerable Catholic Veterans in the Louisville area who tell me their churches were closed. They are not too sure what parish they should attend. In many cases they weren't attending the church when it closed. They didn't hear how their familiar parish would merge with another to form a new parish with a new name. And, very often, they had  moved elsewhere anyway.
I feel like Holden Caulfield, if you remember his dream. He was The Catcher in the Rye, trying to prevent children playing in the rye field from falling over the cliff. Sometimes, with prayer and sacraments and personal concern I can direct the Veterans and their families to their new church, further from the abyss.
Reunited with the Church they will discover again the law written upon their hearts. And these former service members will hear again the voice of command,
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

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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.