Covenant Joy in Lamentations
“I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
Today’s readings: Ez 37:21-28; Jer 31:10-13; Jn 11:45-57
Ezekiel 37:21-28 restates many basic principles of covenant. As God had His covenant with Israel, so God has His covenant with us in LCSC. The purposes of the covenant are the same, though the particular situation of God’s covenanted people would differ.
What is our covenant with God? It is this, according to God’s own word: “My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Ez 37:27). And what is the essence of this relationship?
First (Ez 37:21), God takes us from our different places of exile (our infidelities that take us farther away from God) and gathers us back to Himself. “He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together.” (Jer 31:10b).
Second (Ez 37:22), God intends to unify us. If we are one people of God, then we need to be united in the one vision and mission of LCSC. We need to love one another as brethren. If there is only one prince, one head, our Lord Jesus Christ, then we need to do the one work he gives us. Tensions between leaders, groups, ministries, programs, etc., will be resolved by God, “and never again shall they be divided into two kingdoms.” Only one kingdom will be built, and that is the kingdom of God on earth.
Third (Ez 37:23), God will purify and cleanse us. We are to turn away from our idols (whatever it is that takes precedence or priority before God and His work), our abominations (any sin before a holy and righteous God), our transgressions (however we fall short of the demands of the kingdom), and our apostasy (our turning our backs on God and our disloyalty and unfaithfulness to Him). We are to be holy as God is holy, so that we can truly be His people.
Fourth (Ez 37:24), Jesus is our prince and our one shepherd, leading and caring for the one flock. He will guide and protect us. “He guards (us) as a shepherd his flock” (Jer 31:10c). But we must be willing to stay in his sheepfold and allow him to care for us. We must not stray away. We are called to obey his commands and observe his ways.
Fifth (Ez 37:25), God brings us to live in the promised land, a land of milk and honey. Part of covenant is prosperity for God’s people, where no one is in need and all enjoy God’s bountiful blessings. “Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings: the grain, the wine, and the oil, the sheep and the oxen; they themselves shall be like watered gardens, never again shall they languish.” (Jer 31:12). This covenant will be passed on to our children, and our children’s children, to the next generations, until the work is done and the Lord returns once again. God’s covenant is forever.
Sixth (Ez 37:26), God intends this covenant to lead to peace. Peace is being in right relationship with others. It is the elimination of injustice, oppression, and whatever is not of God in the world. It is a manifestation of God’s dominion. Thus our work in LCSC is salvation of the soul and liberation of the body. This is what makes for the one gospel, the good news of Jesus to the world, with its spiritual and social dimensions. All are designed to bring about God’s peace in the world.
Seventh (Ez 37:28), as God makes us holy, as He dwells among us, then He sends us to the ends of the earth to make His message known. This is our work of massive evangelization reaching the parish grassroots. LCSC is an evangelistic movement in response to the call to the New Evangelization.
All the above is what covenant is about. How amazing God truly is, to enter into such a relationship with us, and to use us for His purposes in the world. How can we do anything else but be humbled and respond by giving Him our all?
Let us learn the lessons of Lamentations during this time of Lent. This is our journey of hope and joy. Even as we lament, we are already joyful, looking forward with hope to what awaits us. And we really have some great things to look forward to. We simply rest on God’s promise: “Then the virgins shall make merry and dance, and young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.” (Jer 31:13).
Action: Consider your own growth to holiness. How pure are you—in thoughts, words and deeds?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your wonderful gift to me of covenant. You have brought me back to yourself, you have cleansed me, you have protected and guided me, you have given me abundant blessings, you have used me as an instrument to bring your good news to many others. I am overwhelmed, Lord. And now you accompany me on a journey of hope, leading to great joy. How can I ever turn away from you again? I am yours, now and forever. Amen.
God bless you all.
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1:21)