Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time
The conversion of the Hebrews
For if that first covenant had been faultless, no place would have been sought for a second one. But he finds fault with them and says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will conclude a new covenant with the house of Israel ….It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers ….. But this is the covenant I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they shall be my people…..’ for all shall know me, from least to greatest. For I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.”When he speaks of a “new” covenant, he declares the first one obsolete. And what has become obsolete and has grown old is close to disappearing. Heb 8,6-13
In this passage of the Letter to the Hebrews, the author speaks about the second Covenant, materialized by Jesus Christ, versus the first one to which the Hebrews still believe.”For if that first covenant had been faultless, no place would have been sought for a second one“, and to explain the obsolescence of the first one he refers to a Jeremy prophecy, addressed to the Hebrews deported in Babylon. The New Covenant – Jeremy said – will have “better promises” of blessings and grace. This prophecy contains one of the most significant messages of the Old Testament, because it goes to the heart of the messianic message included by Jesus Christ in the history of the salvation. The profound meaning of this prophecy is that there will not be anything both material or written in the New Covenant, but that it will be based on the inwardness of the “grace” which will act in a silent and persuasive mode on the spirit of the man. This is what Jesus will say to the Samaritan: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.” (Jn 4,23-24). The conclusion of this message is formulated by the end of the today passage: “ By talking of a new covenant, God declared as ancient the first one; but, what becomes antique and gets old, is close to disappears”. This statement is a recall for the Hebrews of his time who did not want to abandon the sumptuous rituals of the Ancient Covenant, but it can be also a recall for those of this time who, by a certain point of the history, will have to be persuaded of the superiority of the grace, stamped in the heart of the man, versus the law received on the mount Sinai. The church is waiting and prays to the purpose that all of this will take place.