4 August, Thursday
Readings: Jer 31:31-34; Ps 50:12-13, 14-15, 18-19; Mt 16:13-23
Memoria: St. John Mary Vianney - Priest
JESUS THE NEW COVENANT
We have one of the greatest messages of the Old Testament: God promises to make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah (Jer 31:31-34) because people had failed to keep the covenant which the Lord had with their ancestors; this new covenant is different from what He made earlier and which the people broke. In the new covenant, the law is within, that is the law written upon the hearts of the people, and all “from the least of them to the greatest” shall know God, and thus God becomes universal. The new covenant is permanent and final and which cannot be broken again; the Lord says, “For I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more” (Jer 31:34). The new covenant establishes an everlasting relationship with the Lord.
Covenant is an ‘agreement’ between two parties. The new convent is an agreement between God and humans. Isaiah 42:6 says that the Messiah or Christ would be made a covenant. The promised ‘New Covenant’ is established by and realized in Jesus Christ, who is the ‘New Covenant’ himself: “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (Mt 26:28; Mk 14:24; Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:1-14; Heb 8:8-12; 10:16-17). Jesus is the covenant (mediator) between God and humans. Through the death of Christ, the humanity is justified before God, saved from punishment and reconciled to God (Rom 5:8-10); it is the relationship we have with God, a relationship based on faith and grace.
It is due to this relationship that Simon Peter the spokesperson or representative for the disciples (cf. Mt 19:27; 26:35, 40), declares about Jesus, “You are the Messiah (Christ), the son of the living God” (Mt 16:16) when Jesus puts the question to his disciples at Caesarea Philippi, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15). Messiah or Christ means ‘Anointed One’. Jesus wanted to make sure that his disciples understood who really he is. As Son of God, he came to gather all into the kingdom of God and thus he is the promised ‘new covenant’, an agreement between God the Father and humanity.
And this covenant continues through the apostles and the Disciples of Christ: “You are Peter (Petros), and on this rock (Petra, Kepha in Aramaic) I will build my Church (eklesia)… and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16:18-19). Church is the community of faithful or ‘the whole assembly of faithful’ (qahal). This assembly will stand forever against all the forces of death and evil (Mt 16:18) because God has made an everlasting covenant through his Son Jesus Christ and this assembly will remain with Him forever. The mission is entrusted to every baptized child to take forward the Church which Jesus himself founded; each of us given the responsibility (keys) with freedom to discern to make the Church live according to the will of God.
Promise: Let us realize, believe and accept Jesus, the Anointed One as the Lord and Savior and the new Covenant through whom a permanent relationship with God is made. Let us not become a stumbling block and let us set our minds on divine things rather than human things (Mt 16:23). May St. John Mary Vianney intercede for us!