Tuesday of Lent V – Jeremiah 31:31-34 

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares 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. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

“But he started it!” The conversation had descended to this. It almost had to. The whole fight was childish and unworthy of the two adults where were involved. The reality that our feelings are childish, however, almost never helps us not act on them. The two glowered at each other, each unwilling to budge, each believing that the other was in the wrong and that justified what he/she had already done.

Yes, there probably is some justification you can see for what you have said and done. He might indeed have started it. Conversely, you might have started it. But who will end it? Jeremiah wrote these words to a people who were enduring the long and painful consequences of their unfaithful behavior toward God. Of course, they blamed God for it. It was childish. A simple and honest reflection on their idolatrous past and willful disobedience should have brought them to penitential tears. It would take the brutality of exile and the destruction of their city, temple, and nation to bring them to those tears.

No matter who started it, the question remains, who will end it? God takes that upon himself. The old life has been ruined. He will create a new covenant, a new relationship. It will be different this time and yet the same. Like last time he will be their God and they shall be his people. Unlike last time, He will write it on their hearts and not tablets of stone. He will take up a human heart and the whole of humanity to Himself. He will write His love, His forgetful forgiveness, into that relationship when that heart stops beating, suspended on a cross.

It is written into our humanity now, inscribed in the cross which was marked on our foreheads and hearts in baptism. “I am sorry!” says the penitent lover. “I forgive you,” says the other. We have those words to say because we share that humanity with that one who died that day. It has been written on our very being, our hearts. Forgive someone today. You know the Lord.

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