Written by Diane Maletta, Ph.D. - Faculty of Supervision and Instruction, ACE Teaching Fellows; Professional Standards Specialist, ACE
In just two weeks, we will once again realize the lasting and grace-filled covenant our loving God made with us. His endless mercy is a constant reminder that He never gives up on His people. Time and again He made a covenant with the people of Israel, to draw them back to Him. And time and again they broke their covenant. The clear message here is that we are a fallen people. But there is good news! Amidst our fallen nature, there is hope!
In today’s first reading, Jeremiah offers this hope to the people of Israel when he reveals that God will make a new covenant with them – one that overwhelmingly surpasses the previous one – a new and everlasting covenant that will wipe away all of the sins of His people. Great hope springs forth for the people of God! Today, you and I experience this same great hope that surrounds us in this new covenant as we continue on the path of our Lenten journey. We know this hope is not without struggles in our own lives, nor is it easy as we hear in the words of the Psalmist today and in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews. Paul tells the Hebrews of Jesus’ “loud cries and tears” to His merciful Father while He experiences His own struggles. This is a clear reminder that the new covenant does not come without suffering. It is the obedience and reverence Jesus shows to His Father that prepares Him for His final hour. His merciful Father gives Him the grace to endure, as He now gives us His grace to endure our own sufferings while we continue on our Lenten journey. God’s mercy endures forever!
The beautiful story of the parable of the grain of wheat sheds more light on our lives as Christians and on this new covenant. While Jesus spends time with Andrew and Philip in the gospel today, He tells them, and us, this story in which the grain of wheat must first die before it can bear any fruit. Jesus intimately shares with Andrew and Philip His own struggle with suffering in “this hour.” He reminds them – and now us - that through our suffering we must remain steadfast to its purpose – to glorify the Father’s name in this new covenant. Just as Jesus’ own desires had to be put away for His Father’s, now ours must be put away for our Father’s. Our Lenten penance is helping us in this struggle once again!
May we too remain steadfast to this purpose of our own suffering – to glorify the Father’s name in this new covenant – both during these final days of Lent and in our entire life’s Lenten journey! And may our covenant promise always and forever be filled with God’s grace to glorify our Father’s name through the cross, our only hope!