Many of the religious apps and websites I use provide commentary and meditations on the day’s Gospel reading. And they are great and worth reading. However, I too often skip or race through the readings from the Old and New Testaments usually because I don’t understand them and many sites don’t explain them to the degree they explain the Gospel. This is especially true of the Old Testament readings that often use different prose that can be difficult to parse. I want to try to start focusing more on the non-Gospel readings and tie them to the various mysteries of the Rosary.
Last Sunday’s Old Testament reading came from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (unless you were using the Year A readings).
The days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel
and the house of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers
the day I took them by the hand
to lead them forth from the land of Egypt;
for they broke my covenant,
and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD.
But this is the covenant that I will make
with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD.
I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts;
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives
how to know the LORD.
All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD,
for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more.
As you know, the law God gave the Israelites was the stone tablets containing the 10 Commandments. They stored them in the Ark of the Covenant. The Israelites carried the Ark through their wandering in the desert and set up a sacred tent and later a temple to house them. And while sacred, the law was something physically inscribed on stone tablets and regarded as external constraints imposed by a distant God. You see this throughout the Old Testament through the Israelites disobeying God. In fact, by the time Moses came to deliver the 10 Commandments, the Israelites had already broken God’s law by worshiping a golden calf idol. Worshiping the God that brought them out of slavery in Egypt didn’t come naturally to them and they had to be explicitly told to follow God as one of the commandments.
The prophet Jeremiah provides a preview of what is to come through Jesus Christ when he talks about the new law being written in people’s hearts, not on stone tablets. This connects Jesus’ teaching that He came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. Jesus did not invent a new law but reminded everyone of the law that was always there inside of us. And since God’s law is imprinted on our hearts, that makes each of us a sacred ark similar to how the Ark of the Covenant was sacred because it contained the 10 Commandments. That is just one more reason why Catholics consider human life sacred and fight so hard to protect it.
Since God’s law is imprinted on all our hearts, Jesus calls everyone to be His disciple. This means that God’s law transcends religions, nationalities, genders, and customs even if some people don’t know it by the name “Christianity.” This is known as the natural law that God calls everyone to follow. It is the law that theologians and philosophers have teased out over the centuries to arrive at fundamental moral truths that belong to all of us, not a specific group. This law binds us all together and that is why all people are brothers and sisters in Christ.
The Rosary Connection
When we pray the First Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River should remind us of our baptismal vows. These vows are a verbal acknowledgment of the law that God has imprinted on all our hearts and by which we should live. And while this law applies to the baptized and the unbaptized alike, it’s good that we understand them so that we can always try to live by them. When you pray the First Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, I suggest that you recall your baptismal vows and examine your conscience. Are you living up to the promises you made at your baptism and renew periodically during Mass?
- Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?
- Do you renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you
- Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin?
- Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?
- Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
- Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
- And may almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us new birth by water and the Holy Spirit and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins, keep us by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord, for eternal life.