A Note on Today’s Readings | Fifth Sunday in Lent — Year B
Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.
Each year on the first four Sundays of Lent we hear Old Testament readings which recall the most important events in “salvation history”.
On the fifth Sunday of each year, we hear one of the prophetic passages which foresee the greater and ultimate saving event to come in Jesus’ dying and rising.
This year, the reading is Jeremiah’s message that God will at some time in the future establish a new covenant with the people which will transcend the old covenant of the Exodus. The most significant thing about this new covenant is that it will be expressed in an interior relationship with God rather than an exterior law.
The second reading today describes Jesus’ suffering as the manifestation of his priestly ministry (using the image of the mysterious Old Testament priest Melchizedek, who in Hebrew tradition was thought greater than the priests of Israel and one who was, in some sense, immortal). This is part of this epistle’s argument that Jesus has supplanted the priesthood and worship of Israel.
The Gospel reading also relates Jesus’ dying to his glorification and our salvation and as the means of calling the whole world into the kingdom.
As we near the end of our Lenten pilgrimage, these readings underscore the primary result of our worship and especially of Baptism and Eucharist: we have been made part of Christ’s Body in Baptism and a part of his priesthood; that is, we are part of what he does, we express our share in his sacrifice and his mediation between humanity and God in our celebration of the liturgy. Thus, indeed, is this new Covenant written on our hearts and we truly each know God as Jeremiah foretold. Pray for those who will join that new Covenant when they are baptized at Easter.