As we are reading the scriptures for today, we encounter a promise from God – one of his earliest ones, yet in just a few days we will be entering Holy Week and seeing the fulfillment of another promise. Our gospel offers a hint of what is to happen during that week, one man will die for his nation, for all humankind. Indeed, our savior will die to save us – the ones with the failings.
I found great comfort in the first reading – greatly enjoying the idea of a covenant of peace and sanctuary forever. It conjures up a picture for me of being cared for, enveloped in the arms of God. My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. We are offered a promise based on trust and love, a promise asking in return that we live by statutes and observe decrees. A few weeks ago we read of the Ten Commandants. Following these statutes form our end of the bargain, although how many times do we falter? I shudder at how divided we are now as human beings, seeing more of our differences than our similarities. Being gathered together holds an ideal for us all no matter what time in history.
Our responsorial psalm presents us with the Lord as our shepherd and, we, the beloved flock. This is an image we often see. The shepherd who provides for us, protects us, and even gives his life for us. Again, we are comforted as we await the most powerful week in our church’s year. The shepherd is readying himself as a sacrifice for us all. Since we are Easter people, we can perhaps understand better now Jeremiah’s line: I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.
I can only imagine how it was for the Jews in the time of Jesus – witnesses to incredible miracles, unable to understand what was happening. The threat of Jesus and His miracles are very real for the high priests. They are living in relative peace albeit under the oppression rule of the Romans. The priests have a clear role, aspects of it untouched by the Romans. Imagine the thought of all of this changing because of this man called Jesus. So often we are faced with making decisions of what to “sacrifice” to reach our goals or maintain our current status. When we know others have made sacrifices for us, do we not speak of not letting those sacrifices be for nothing? We try to maximize the outcomes of those sacrifices. So, I have to ask myself do I maximize the sacrifice that Christ Jesus has made for me. Do I live everyday as though it is a gift of grace and the result of the ultimate sacrifice for love? Do I reflect that love so freely given to me as I interact with others? Am I worthy of this sacrifice?
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