4th Sunday of Lent
A very quick history lesson. About 600 years before Jesus was born Nebuchadnezer, the King of Babylon, besieged Jerusalem, destroyed the city and the Temple and took the inhabitants into exile. In the psalm we hear the sadness of the exiles. About 50 years later the Persian king Cyrus defeated the Babylonians and allowed the exiles to return and to rebuild the temple.
The first reading is a meditation on this. God made an agreement, a covenant, with his people to make them a great nation, but the people failed to keep the agreement, they disobeyed God and the consequence was disaster, but in his mercy and love God, in the end, offers a new start. This is a cycle that happens over and over again in The Old Testament.
Jesus in the Gospel and St Paul in the second reading are speaking of the new Covenant, the New Testament the new agreement between God and Man. It’s what Jesus is describing at the last supper when he says ‘the blood of the new and eternal covenant “. This covenant is the one Jesus seals by his sacrifice of love on the cross. It wins for us the eternal forgiveness of God. There is nothing we can do that can break this covenant, it is eternal, we will always be forgiven no matter what we do, God will never take his love from us. Heaven is always open to us. It’s God’s work not ours and God cannot fail.
But it’s not magic and it’s not forced upon us. God’s love and forgiveness is there always, heaven is open for us. But we must want it.
Again the analogy of a loving wife, (women - substitute loving husband) she always loves her husband, she has prepared the most beautiful welcoming home for him. A love and a place where he will be happy for ever. It’s all her work and it’s offered to him in love. But he never looks at her, he never goes home, he doesn’t give it a thought and as a result he will never know the happiness that could be his. It’s not her fault, she will always love and forgive and welcome him, but he’s not interested. That’s what Jesus is saying in the Gospel. God never condemns, God never closes heaven to those he loves, no, we condemn ourselves. If we take no interest in what is offered we will never know the joy of love at home in heaven.
Lent encourages us, even if we fail a lot, at least to keep taking to God, to visit him in Church, listen to what he says and do what he wants, show him we don’t reject what he offers.