"Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah” (Jeremiah 31:31).

From the time the first covenant was made it was broken by Israel. In many parts of the Old Testament Israel is called ‘unfaithful Israel’, ‘faithless Israel’, signifying the depth of its disobedience to the Covenant.

Israel’s disobedience and its refusal to observe the requirements of the Covenant was a cause of great concern to God. Yet, in spite of the people’s waywardness, God continued to love them and to remember the promise he made to them.

In today’s reading God makes a new covenant with Israel and signals his intention to forget their past unworthiness; “for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." The making of the new covenant demonstrates God’s unbroken love for Israel and by extension, his unbroken love for all people. God does more that forgive our sins; he forgets our wrongdoings and does not hold them against us.

In todays Old Testament reading God offers Israel a new beginning “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel.”

This same offer is made to us today and requires a change on our part if we are to if we are to fully benefit from his forgiveness. God is willing to forget our sinfulness and give us a new life. God invites us to change our lives and establish a new relationship with him. Change is always difficult because it asks us to give up something we might enjoy doing or like. However, what we like or enjoy doing might not be good for us, might not be right in God’s sight and might keep us separated from God.

I would like to suggest to you and to me that Jeremiah invites all of us to change our way of living so as to establish a sincere relationship with God, a relationship that is truthful and comes from the heart. One might couch it in terms of a choice between life and death, one can hear Jeremiah saying to us choose life.

What do we need to change in our lives so as to enjoy life and be at peace with God and ourselves? We can personalise this question and ask “what do I need to change in my living so as to enjoy life and be at peace with God and myself?” In many instances we do not recognise a need for change because our sins become a part of us and we count it as normal. Further, we try to justify our sinfulness and make excuse for our shortcomings.

We cannot change our lives on our own. Change will only come about when we allow God’s Holy Spirit to change our lives. It is God’s grace that has the power to change our lives and set us on a new path. Paul is well aware of this, ‘by the grace of God I am what I am.” If we are really serious about changing our lives and doing what is right, true and honest, it can be done. We cannot change on our own, we might will it but we do not have the capacity to do it. We all need God’s grace so that we can change our lives.

Every person present at mass this morning knows if he or she is doing what is right. Each person at Mass today knows what he or she needs to change in his or her life. We must not shy away from the call to change our lives by trying to justify our behaviour.

In today’s reading God promises to give us a new covenant and to write it upon our hearts. Ezekiel also writes: “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” The Psalmist writes: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” The new heart which God wants to give us is a new life. The new heart is a heart of flesh that will enable us to live a good life, a holy and righteous life. This is what Jesus teaches:”Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

A change in our living will bring us great benefits. It will allow us to establish a true relationship with God built on love and obedience. It will give us true joy and a lasting peace. It will have a positive effect on our family relationships, the way we treat people, the respect we give to people, what we say and what we do, how we love our neighbours. If we change our way of living the community will also benefit.

The questions to be asked so that we can please God and live a good life and initiate a process of change in the way we live are: What do I need to change in my life? What do I need to give up? What do I need to stop doing?

Finally, this change can only come about if we are willing and prepare to acknowledge our sinfulness and seek God’s forgiveness. Repentance is the first step we must make in our quest for a new life of change. God will forgive and he will forget the past. Without repentance there can be no change in anyone’s life.

Change or your life will decay. 

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