Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Proper of the Day: Pentecost XXI

Today the Church observes a Feast of Our Lord, and we also wrapped up a long Jeremiah cycle, and continue reading from 2 Timothy and Luke. The passage from Jeremiah 31 contains the great "New covenant" promise:

The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt-- a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, "Know the LORD," for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

The phrase "new covenant" is a haplax legomenon - it's completely unique in all of the Hebrew Scripture. But we hear the phrase every time we attend the Eucharist. This passage is very significant because Jesus, at the last supper, makes the incredible claim that he is the embodiment of the New Covenant promised by Jeremiah. In Jesus we know God, he says, and it's in Jesus that God forgives our iniquities and remembers our sin no more:

"This is my blood of the New Covenant, given and shed for all for the forgiveness of sins."

The days are not surely coming - in Christ they are already here!

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


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