Our Sunday Visitor
I will make a new covenant with Israel
Reading I : Jeremiah 31:31-34
- The prophecy of Jeremiah in today’s first reading was spoken to the people of Israel while they were in exile.
- The people had not remained faithful to the covenant made at Sinai.
- The old covenant was written stone; the new covenant will be written in the people’s hearts.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor
The Catholic Study Bible Notes
New Covenant written on the hearts of people
In the new covenant God will write the divine law or teaching (torah) upon the hearts of the people, so that the union of God and people will be internal (Jer 31:33–34; cf. Jer 32:38–40).
SOURCE: Content taken from The Catholic Study Bible Notes ; Donald Senior, CP, John J. Collins, Mary Ann Gettyr; Copyright © 2016. Oxford University Press; 3rd edition. All rights reserved.
Feasting on the Word
Jeremiah's message of hope
Now that judgment has come, the prophet’s words turn to hope. Despite the people’s infidelity, despite corrupt kings and priests, despite injustice and exploitation, despite idolatry, despite all the ways the people have broken faith with God—God will not break faith with them. Instead of yet another word of judgment, the people receive a lavish promise, unexpected good news. God will bring newness out of destruction. God will bring hope where there is no hope. God will bring life out of death. God will make a way where there is no way. No longer will the law be engraved in stone and displayed in rotundas for all to see but none to follow. The days are surely coming when the law will be engraved in the people’s hearts and displayed in their lives. No longer will the people know about God—all the right words, all the right theology. The days are surely coming when the people, from the least to the greatest, will know God—with all the intimacy that word entails. God will wash away the people’s sins once and for all and remember them no more.
SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B (12 Volume Set); David L. Bartlett (Editor); Copyright © 2011. Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
Understanding the Bible Commentary
God will not remember their sins
The fact that he will not remember their sins does not mean that God will erase his memory of them. To remember is to act upon something. To not remember is to not act upon it. He will not treat them as if they are sinners.
God's Justice Bible
God is evolving us
Jer 31:31–34 New Covenant God’s work of redemption is not limited to restoring the creation to its initial good state. Rather, the promise of the new covenant announced in this text is that God is at work changing us from within; he is “evolving” us into something better. By putting his law in our minds and writing it on our hearts, God transforms our Adamic nature, which cannot obey him, into the Christlike nature, for which divine justice is something instinctive.
SOURCE: Content taken from GOD'S JUSTICE BIBLE: The flourishing of Creation & the Destruction of Evil notes by Tim Stafford; Copyright © 2016. Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Life Recovery Bible
A joyful picture of recovery
Jer 31:1-40 God paints a joyful picture of recovery, with all the elements of repentance, sorrow, forgiveness, laughter, restoration, and hope. Once again God’s people would follow his plan for them, and he would receive their worship and praise. We can experience this kind of restoration, too. We start the process by admitting our need for God’s healing power in our life. God desires to rebuild his relationship with each of us, no matter how far we have strayed from him. He delights in finding new ways to exhibit his love to those who belong to him.
SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
Life Application Study Bible
Foundation of the Covenant is Christ
Jer 31:33 The old covenant, broken by the people, would be replaced by a new covenant. The foundation of this new covenant is Christ (Hebrews 8:6). It is revolutionary, involving not only Israel and Judah, but even the Gentiles. It offers a unique personal relationship with God himself, with his laws written on individuals’ hearts instead of on stone. Jeremiah looked forward to the day when Jesus would come to establish this covenant. But for us today, this covenant is here. We have the wonderful opportunity to make a fresh start and establish a permanent, personal relationship with God (see Jer 29:11; Jer 32:38–40). But several evil kings defiled the temple and degraded worship so that the people revered idols more highly than God. Finally, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed the temple (Jer 36:19). The kings were gone, the temple was destroyed, and the people were removed. The nation was stripped to its very foundation. But fortunately there was a greater foundation—God himself. When everything in life seems stripped away from us, we too still have God—his Word, his presence, and his promises.
SOURCE: Content taken from LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE NOTES, Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
CATHOLIC Bible Study
The Prophecy of a New Covenant
by Michal Hunt (Agape Bible Study)
In the First Reading, God’s sixth-century BC prophet, Jeremiah, promises a “New Covenant” that is more than a political or national restoration of Israel and Judah’s divided kingdom. It will bring about a spiritual restoration of God’s covenant people and the forgiveness of their sins (Jer 31:1, 3-4, 7-8, 34). Jesus’ New Covenant is the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy. His Passion and Resurrection will bring about a universal call to salvation, as prophesied by the prophet Simeon at baby Jesus’ Temple dedication (Jer 31:2:32).
The promised New Covenant
The words of this prophecy are central to Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry and profoundly impact the New Testament and Christian teaching. The promised “New Covenant” is more than a political or national restoration of Israel and Judah’s divided kingdom. It will bring about a universal, spiritual restoration of all God’s covenant people in a new and eternal covenant (Jer 31:1, 3-4, 7-8, 34; 32:40; Heb 13:20) in which all nations will come to know Yahweh and His gift of salvation through the Redeemer-Messiah, God the Son (Lk 2:30-32; Mt 28:19-20).
The prophecy presents the promise of the New Covenant in two parts:
- Part I describes the Old Sinai Covenant that Israel’s sins have broken (verse 32).
- Part II speaks forcefully of the New Covenant, which will forgive sins and is everlasting (verses 33-34).
Old Sinai Covenant characteristics
Jer 31:32 describes the Old Sinai Covenant as having three key characteristics:
- It was a covenant made “with the fathers” (ancestors) and therefore carried the force of tradition (verse 32a).
- It was a sign of Israel’s divine election in the Exodus liberation (verse 32b).
- It showed Yahweh’s divine authority as the Master over His people (verse 32c).
New Covenant characteristics
The promised New Covenant also has three key characteristics:
- It is “new,” and unlike the “old,” dependent on external acts of obedience. It will bring about an interior, heart-transforming change. It is not written on stone but the hearts of believers (verse 33).
- It is “new” because no previous covenant will be able to compare with it. The New Covenant is definitive and will not be superseded; it is eternal (verse 34).
- It is “new” in that sins are forgiven not through animal sacrifice but by the atoning sacrifice of God the Son Himself.
Jesus’ New Covenant declares the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (Heb 8:13; 10:8-10). His Passion will call together the dispersed children of God as prophesied by Isaiah (Is 66:18-21). It will also gather in the Gentiles as prophesied by Simeon at Jesus’ Temple dedication (Is 2:32).
But unlike the Old Sinai covenant ratified in the blood of sacrificed animals (Ex 24:3-8), Jesus instituted this New Covenant in His Blood. At the Last Supper, He told those assembled, “this cup is the new covenant in my blood” (Lk 22:20; repeated by Paul in 1 Cor 15:25). He accomplished fulfilling the old Sinai Covenant and the inauguration of the new as He shed His blood on the altar of the Cross. In one of His last statements from the Cross, Jesus pronounced the Old Covenant “fulfilled/finished” (Jn 19:30).
The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit baptized the New Covenant community of the faithful at Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus’ Ascension. The New Covenant community taught their Jewish countrymen and women, and their Gentile neighbors the Gospel of salvation (Jer 31:34), forming a holy New Covenant people made up of Jews and Gentiles and making them one, not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit of God.
SOURCE: content taken from Michal E. Hunt at Agape Bible Study; used with permission. titles added.
Lisa St. Romaine
I will write my law on their hearts
Points to consider
I hear the prophet speaking about the renewal of the covenant with God. I think it is the most tender passage in all the prophets. Four times he repeats the source and authority behind his message – Says the Lord – to indicate a solemn declaration coming directly from God. Let me speak them with equal solemnity.
A new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will be deeper and more permanent than the one that came before: not like the covenant I made with their fathers. I shall retell the outcome of that initial relation in a kind of divine regret, something like ‘you forced my hand in those days.’
I will place my law within them. The prophet seems to be invoking the spirit rather than the letter of the law, which is something we should be cultivating in the church. And because it is within them, no longer will they have need to teach. He means that they will pass it on like a genetic code to future generations. What a marvelous image!
The prophet spoke these words as the people were heading into exile, uprooted and defeated. Though they had forgotten God, God had not forgotten them. I will be their God and they shall be my people. God is not restricted to the Holy Land; wherever the people go God will go before them. Let my voice do justice to these uplifting words.
- Climax: I will write my law upon their hearts.
- Message for our assembly: Our own faith today is built upon this covenant, thanks to Jesus who brought it to fulfillment.
- I will challenge myself: To read in a spirit of gratitude for the renewed invitation of God to us, remembering the psalm verse: Happy the nation whose God is the Lord.
SOURCE: LectorWorks.org; Used with permission
A new and different covenant
Ask the presider to tell your listeners (or tell them yourself):
In a time of deep despair, Judah, exiled from its homeland, despaired of its special election by God. Jeremiah realized that God’s faithfulness was going to be revealed in a new and different Covenant, at a level deeper than anyone had yet imagined.
Jeremiah lived from about 650 B.C. to perhaps 580 B.C. Most of his work was in Judah’s capital Jerusalem. Here’s what The New Jerusalem Bible (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc, 1985) says about his life and times:
Called by God as young man in 626-627 BC, … he lived through the tragic years preceding and succeeding the ruin of the kingdom of Judah. Hopes had been raised by Josiah’s religious reforms and his rallying of the nation, but these were destroyed by the death of the king at Megiddo in 609 and the disruption of the balance of power in that ancient world by the fall of Nineveh in 612 and the expansion of the Chaldean empire. From 605 onwards Nebuchadnezzar imposed his will on Palestine; Judah rebelled, encouraged by the persistent intrigues of Egypt, and in 597 Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem and deported part of its population. A second revolt brought back the Chaldean armies and in 587 Jerusalem was again captured, its Temple burnt and more of its inhabitants deported. Jeremiah lived throughout these catastrophic events, preaching, threatening, prophesying disaster, vainly admonishing the incompetent Davidic kings one after the other; by the war party he was dubbed a defeatist, persecuted and imprisoned. When Jerusalem fell, Jeremiah remained in Palestine with his friend Gedaliah whom the Chaldeans had appointed governor; the prophet could see, however, that all the hopes for the future lay in those who had been exiled. When Gedaliah was assassinated, a party of Jews, fearing reprisals, fled to Egypt, taking Jeremiah with them. It is probable that he died there.
Jeremiah tried to keep the people, priests and several kings faithful to God amidst an atmosphere of political intrigue and backstabbing like that which prevails in this writer’s own capital today*. Jeremiah was blunt about what was right and what was not. And though a superficial reading makes his words in today’s passage seem sweet, his firm confrontation of people, priests and kings is right below the surface. Why is there need for God to make a new covenant? Because the people, priests and kings had broken the original. How will the new one be different? It will be within the people, written on their hearts [and so immune to obfuscation and dilution by cowardly leaders]. Why will there be no need for teachers in the new covenant? Because the present teachers (priests and kings) failed so miserably.
* The writer is happily a citizen and resident of the United States. From correspondence with readers and study of his website’s logs, he enjoys the certainty that Lector’s Notes are read internationally and ecumenically.
Proclaiming the Passage
In the first few verses, emphasize with your voice the contrasts between God’s old covenant with the people, and the new covenant:
- … when I will make a new covenant with the house …
- It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers …
- But this is the covenant that I will make …
- I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts …
The last two sentences suggest that, with respect to the older covenant, not everyone “got it,” and those who did get it had to teach and persuade those who did not. (Remember, Jeremiah is particularly fed up with priests and kings, and maybe he’s attacking the distinction that those classes liked to make between themselves and their students.) In any case, Jeremiah predicts that the new covenant will overcome this distinction between those who “get it” and those who don’t. So emphasize the sentence, “All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the Lord” …
“I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts,” this passage is central to the movement that created religion as we know it, making religion a free, spiritual and personal choice and way of life, not just a matter of conformity to external standards and rituals. The sentence was unprecedented when Jeremiah spoke it. Try to make it sound new and revolutionary when you speak it. Will you pause? Will you be louder, or dramatically soft? How will you vary the pitch of your voice in order to emphasize it?
Jesus and Isaac: Two Beloved Sons
Jesus is depicted as the fulfillment of many Old Testament types, such as Adam, Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, Joseph, and so on. In this week’s video see some of the types Jesus is fulfilling in the readings for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, in particular Jesus being a New Isaac.Check out this video with Dr. Brant Pitre to learn more.
Institute of Catholic Culture
How is Jesus the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s “New Covenant”
Gospel Reflection for the Fifth Sunday of Lent