Psalm 51:3-4, 12-15
There was a chemical researcher who called for a national scientific meeting, sharing the news that after tireless years of intense and comprehensive research, he had finally discovered a chemical compound that would cure cancer and assured everyone in the meeting that the compound works, backed by hundreds of trial demonstration. One of his fellow chemists asked the question what is the compound, and then suddenly the chemical researcher who discovered it left the room.
The dynamic of the story I just described above is similar to that of the first reading of the gospel. Jeremiah shares what God proclaimed to him, saying that He “will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the house of Judah”, those who belong to Him. God says that unlike the previous covenant He made with them, He will put this new one “within them” and “write it upon their hands”. The previous covenant was handed on to Moses, a covenant contained in two tablets and conveyed in heavenly words. The peculiar thing about this reading is that God never said anything about that covenant as far as what it is and how it will come to be. We never really know anything about that “new covenant” God will place in our hearts, not unless we remind ourselves of the gospel reading last week.
In last week’s gospel reading, we heard Our Blessed Lord telling Nicodemus that “for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that those who believe in Him may not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Unlike the old covenant that was conveyed through words and etched in tablets, the new one was sent. Unlike the old covenant that was written, the new one was breathed into life. Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh, is the new covenant, and God put His Word into those who believe in Him lest they be condemned.
Last week’s gospel told us, in hindsight, who the new covenant is. And so we move on to today’s gospel, which tells us what that new covenant tells us.
Today’s gospel passage features some special characters in the Greeks. Putting in historical context, the Greeks during the earthly setting of our Blessed Lord represented a culture strong and rich in intellectual heritage. They were the high class intellectuals of that time, all due to the legacies of the “Big Three” of their culture: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Those three intellectual magicians paved the way that leads to many doors of what can be known about humanity, the world, and everything. Yet, the Greeks from the gospel seemed to discover a single door no one else before them ever ran into. It was a door that leads to the dwelling place of knowledge, where knowledge is nothing but an infant that is being tended by his father. And so the Greeks came to Jerusalem to talk to the new covenant to know about its philosophy, its matter so to speak, as the Philosopher would term it. In other words, the Greeks wanted to know what the new covenant has to say about mankind. In turn, the Word Himself has spoken, revealing its matter to those who seek to know Him, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit.”
The Word, the origin of nature, calls to reinvent herself under a new law He has spoken, that unless you die to yourself, you will not flourish. In other words, unless you die in your old life full of sin—pride, envy, gluttony, sloth, lust, avarice, wrath—there will be no room in your heart for grace to save you. It was a philosophy completely foreign to the Greeks. And rightly so, it is foreign, for it is a philosophy that is yet to come fulfilled until Easter Sunday. It is a philosophy that begins in betrayal, resentment, doubt, fear, and trial. It then goes on into Good Friday, filled with desolation, injustice, scourging, mockery, insults, bearing a cross that seems too heavy to bear, cross, and death. Death is not the climax of this philosophy, but faith and resignation, when the New Covenant utters “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” And from this climax comes Easter Sunday, when all which began on Thursday until death are glorified and justified. All because of faith. The New Covenant, during His earthly life, was a living testament that the best response to human tribulation is faith to the one who supplies us life, and this covenant remains in our hearts as believers.
St. Paul wrote to the church in Judea, how fitting it was, that the way to our salvation is by keeping in our hearts the New Covenant who responded in obedience, resignation, and faith to the Father when He went through His sufferings on the cross.
The New Covenant assures us that there is a moment of the Resurrection awaiting us, only if our egos die out in us and let obedience, resignation, and faith born. And so as we approach the Passion Week of our Blessed Lord, let us continue to pray for faith, that it may be strengthened as our days go along.