A reading from the prophecy of Jeremiah
“The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…. I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God and, they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the Lord. All, from the least to the greatest, shall know me, says the Lord, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.”
This is an important moment in the history of the Jewish people and their relationship to God. The original Ten Commandments were inscribed in stone, something apart from living men and women. Now, God says he will “place my law within them and write it upon their hearts.“ God will “forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.” The Law of God is no longer only external but internal, in their very own hearts.
Can you feel the Law of God in your heart? Yes! Because the very Spirit of God lives within us.
“Create a clean heart in me, O God.” This is a prayer of renewal for us when our hearts feel broken or heavily burdened. It is a response to God’s ever-present invitation for us to start anew.
A reading from the Letter to the Hebrews
“In the days when Christ Jesus was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his reverence. Son, though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered, and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”
Our salvation comes through the suffering and death of Jesus, who suffers no more but is with us in our sufferings. We are never alone. Jesus is always with us, even when we do not feel his presence. Jesus is always with us!
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
When we hear the word “crucifixion,” we rarely understand its horrifying power. Crucifixion was a slow, hideously painful death which the Romans utilized to make a point: Don’t follow this man if you know what is waiting for you when we catch you.
Jesus knows the kind of death that he faces, but he also knows the importance of his death.
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life, loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.”
We all have our sufferings in this life; sometimes, they may seem overwhelming. But we do not suffer alone. Jesus is there with us. Perhaps there are also supportive friends and family who are with us in our times of need—doing what we can do for others who we know are suffering.
Painting: The Crucifixion, Rembrandt Harmenszvan Rijn. Philadelphia Museum of Art. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
Bill Ayers was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. Bill was a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.