March 29: Fifth Sunday of Lent

Duccio di Buoninsgna, Jeremiah, Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, Siena, 1308-11

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 (NRSV, Jeremiah 31:34).

First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34

Let us pray.

Father, we used to think that prophets were persons specially chosen by you and then given secrets about a future already determined, passed on to us as warning and challenge. But if the future is already fixed, if history is indeed a play already written in advance, what need is there to speak of it? What could be done in any case to redirect it?

No, prophets do not really speak of a pre-determined future. It is the present of which they speak and its implications for the future, what will happen if we who are truly free by God’s favor, do not choose well.

Nor is the prophet specially chosen by you because, we have learned, you do not choose this one or that one over the other, but rather reveal yourself to all through your ever-present Word, once and for all, yet in every moment at the depth of our being, even from the womb. You speak your truth to all and offer your divine life to all. As the saints are those who respond best by living well, the prophet are those who respond best in understanding and then share what they have grasped with the rest of us, challenging us to live out our lives more fruitfully.

At Mount Sinai, our spiritual forebears came to understand for the first time what you speak to all in every moment: that you are one God and that you are God for your people, that you call us to a future, and that you require that we love you and one another. They saw, as best they then could, the future to which you call them as life in the land for your people and they hammered out, as best they could, the manner in which the people should live, inscribed as it were on tablets of stone.

If Moses is the prophet, it is also to Jeremiah that we owe so much for Jeremiah realized that the Law has not been given, not written out, in stone, but given within us, written in our hearts.

Prophet that he was, so very sensitive to the revelation given to all, Jeremiah sensed that it was not really from the prophet or any created being that we learn the truth but from you alone who speaks to all.

In Jesus, your only begotten Son, truly your Word made flesh, we have come to understand, Father, ever more fully your revelation to all. You are truly our God, but a God for all people. You love us all and call us not to the land but to an ever greater share in your own divine life in which we are called to grow continuously in this world and beyond. There is no law written in stone once and for all but spoken to each and every one of us at every moment and we are called to grow in our understanding of that Word and to apply it ever more effectively in our lives and in all of our actions. However well we grasp that law, you call us always to move beyond whatever understanding we have reached. And when we fail in understanding and in action, when we err and when we sin, you are always there in your Word challenging us to begin again and to move forward. Every moment, we now understand, is the saving moment.

And all of this we now see so clearly through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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