An Age-Old Love
Homily for Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Today and tomorrow will bring us the last two readings from the Prophet Jeremiah. While the preceding chapters of Jeremiah have been full of dire oracles and equally dire accusations, these final readings from this major prophet reveal that like his predecessors, Jeremiah also sees a joyful reunion between God and God’s people in the future.
The very first statement that we hear this morning is one of the most consequential: “I will be the God of all the tribes of Israel, and they shall be my people.” Two words are missing from the statement that we are used to hearing in this context. The statement usually is conditional – if you will be my people, then I will be your God. However, Jeremiah leaves the condition out of this statement. Speaking for God, Jeremiah tells the people that God has loved them with an age-old love. The scene that follows these words is one of dancing and merrymaking, a scene of restoration and rebuilding. God’s love for God’s people is eternal.
While the Hebrew Scriptures dwell on the point that the Israelites are God’s chosen people, the Gospel text for today reveals that God’s love is for all people. While it might seem that Jesus’ initial reaction is one of rejection, in fact he is simply leading this woman into a brief conversation that reveals her faith and her persistence. Through this woman we come to understand what Jesus asks of us as well. People of faith never stop in entering into a conversation with Jesus even when it seems that no one is listening.
At the end of the reading from the Prophet Jeremiah, he uses a term that may not seem all that important. He refers to those who are faithful to the covenant relationship as the remnant of Israel. How blessed we are to be counted among that remnant! It is to the remnant, the leftovers, that God has given the most important sign of love; namely, the Eucharist. Each day this sacrament stands as a reminder of God’s age-old love for us, for in this sacrament God gives us his very self. There is no more powerful sign of God’s love then God’s presence in our midst through the Eucharist.