A Covenant Written in our Hearts

Jeremiah 31:31-34

The Biblical text from the NRSV is always found in the first column.

The reflection by Fr. Dennis Chriszt, CPPS is always found in the second column.

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.

It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah has received a message from God, a message for the people of God, the people of Israel and Judah. It is a message of hope for a people in turmoil. The people had already seen the destruction of the kingdom of Israel to the north, only a remnant of the once united kingdom remained, and it was threatened on every side. Other nations, larger and more powerful, were at war with one another, and Judah was an insignificant nation in between and in their way. One king had tried to reform the nation, restoring the covenant it had with God, the next had gone back to its evil ways, rejecting the covenant and following godless ways. All seemed hopeless, yet Jeremiah continued to bring a message of hope from God.

A new covenant, a covenant written on the heart, a covenant that could not be forgotten or disregarded was about to be made. This covenant was much more concise. It did not have hundreds of laws and precepts. It was quite simple: “I will be their God, and they will be my people.” This new covenant would be rooted in mercy: “I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.” Think of that a moment. The all-knowing God, whose memory is limitless, promises to forget the sins of the people.

Jeremiah’s promise to the people of Israel and Judah is fulfilled in the new covenant begun in Jesus Christ. It is a promise of hope not only to the people of Jeremiah’s time, but also to the people of God for all time. It is not only a promise to the people of Israel and Judah, but it is also a promise to all those who have been redeemed in the blood of Christ. It is a promise that no matter how hopeless things may seem, God is always with us, God is always forgetting and forgiving our iniquities.

The new covenant is indeed written in our hearts. It is indeed a covenant between God and all of humanity. It is a covenant that brings mercy and reconciliation for all people.

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