Daily Reflection
April 2nd, 2003
Tom Shanahan, S.J.
University Relations and the Theology Department
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Isaiah 49:8-15
Psalm 145:8-9, 13-14, 17-18
John 5:17-30

In the first reading in today’s liturgy from Isaiah, we hear a reference to God’s covenant.  That important word, covenant, is a major theme in the bible.  The several covenants in the Hebrew Bible focus God’s gracious love for the Chosen People.  And in the New Testament Jesus speaks of a “new covenant” that is effected by the shedding of his blood on the cross. 

The covenants in the Hebrew Bible generally were associated with the sacrifice of animals and the use of blood as a sign of the seriousness of the contract between the parties – God and the people.  Blood, as a natural symbol of life, marks off the covenant event; “if I should break the covenant, may I be as these animals – killed in a most bloody way!”   That is serious business all right.  My very life is on the line to accomplish this covenant.  The main covenant between God and the Chosen People is stated in this form, “I will be your God and you will be my people.”

In today’s reading we hear the word of God from the prophet Isaiah promising God’s faithfulness to the covenant.  Isaiah highlights that faithfulness by referring to a mother’s love for her child; the covenant is that strong  (“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?  Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”).  This is a God who really cares for us and will stick with us through thick and thin.  God says to us that God will always be there for us and never fail us.

Can I believe that?  Or, is it almost “too good to believe” as we say?  It may be “too good”, but, yet it is true.  Lent affords us the opportunity to look at magnificent realities like the covenant and to let these realities sink in ever more deeply into our hearts.  We never stop learning of God’s love for us and Lent is an excellent time to begin to realize it anew.

A Jesuit brother who was celebrating his 50th anniversary as a Jesuit remarked to some of us after making a directed retreat as part of his celebration, “I’m beginning to understand that God loves me!”  I find the remark of an over-70-year-old-man to be a wonderful consolation – it is a splendid sign of God’s faithfulness to the covenant of love extended towards us.

Lord, help us to realize your goodness in our lives.  Help us to not miss your goodness and how you share that with us – in both the joyful and the sorrowful parts of our lives.  Thank you for your faithfulness and draw from us our faithfulness to one another and to you.

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