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Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Written on our hearts

Sometimes I listen to Sunday Soundbites, very short weekly homilies from Franciscan Radio given by by Fr. Greg Friedman, O.F.M. (who wrote that article I posted earlier, What Does It Mean to 'Be Church'). The Sunday Soundbites are in audio format but you can also read them. Here's the transcript for last Sunday's mini-homily ....

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Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of stone tablets—surviving evidence of the life in the ancient Near East. This stone record gives us a glimpse of the cultures that are the background of the Bible. Hello, I’m Father Greg Friedman, with the “Sunday Soundbite” for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

Especially helpful to Biblical studies has been the record of covenants—agreements made between merchants, traders or rulers in biblical times. By studying these business or legal relationships, we can understand the religious concept of covenant—our Scriptural theme all through this Lent.

In today’s first reading, however, the prophet Jeremiah wants us to move from covenants recorded on stone to another kind of covenant. Jeremiah is thinking of the Ten Commandments, written on stone by God and given to Moses. Now God tells the prophet that henceforth the covenant will be written in the hearts of the people. They will know their God with the intimacy of a lover. They will respond from the heart.

Lent is about renewing our Baptism. In Baptism God has “written on our hearts” a personal, covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. In today’s Gospel Jesus refers to his own act of self-giving, in the beautiful image of the grain of wheat, which dies in order to allow new life to grow. In the same passage he invites his followers to imitate him in that selfless act of love.

In these final weeks of Lent, let us seek to respond to that covenant invitation. I’m Father Greg Friedman with the “Sunday Soundbite” for St. Anthony Messenger Press, on the Web at FranciscanRadio.org.

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