We were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world! (see Ephesians 1:4).
To that end, God set out to find us long before we thought to look for him. In fact, all through history, God has been seeking us. His son’s journey to the Cross wasn’t an afterthought, something made necessary by 1st-century religion and politics. Rather, Christ’s journey to the Cross is the culmination of a journey back to the Father that began after Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden.
Many of you are familiar with The Great Adventure Bible Timeline, which traces the growth of God’s covenant throughout twelve periods of salvation history as it unfolds in the Bible. You may be interested to know that this year, when we’re in liturgical cycle B, the Church will take us through a kind of “mini-timeline” that runs through the first readings and which we enter and respond to in the Responsorial Psalms:
Feb 22, 1st Sunday of Lent – Early World
God establishes a covenant with Noah, with a sign “for all ages to come” (Genesis 9:8-15). The Psalm reminds us that God’s ways “are love and truth to those who keep [his] covenant” (see Ps 25:10).
March 1, 2nd Sunday of Lent – Patriarchs
Abraham offers his son Isaac to God, willing to sacrifice his only son. Because he obeys God’s command, he
receives his son and confirmation of an amazing blessing that extends to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 22). “I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living,” reads the Psalm response. Obedience leads to life, not death.
March 8, 3rd Sunday of Lent – Egypt and Exodus
God brings his children out of slavery in Egypt and gives them the Ten Commandments: laws to help them live as His children (Exodus 20). Then Psalm 19: the law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing, and trustworthy! – the Ten Commandments are, in fact, “the words of everlasting life.”
March 15, 4th Sunday of Lent – Conquest & Judges, Exile, Return
God sends prophets “early and often” to call his people back to his covenant love. They refuse and are sent in exile, then the Lord draws them out to return and rebuild (2 Chr 36). “Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!” we respond with Psalm 137, along with the exiles in Babylon.
March 22, 5th Sunday of Lent – Announcing the New Covenant
As the people head into exile, Jeremiah announces a day when God will make a new covenant within them and write it on their hearts! (Jeremiah 31:33-34). “Create in me a clean heart,” we reply with Psalm 51.
March 29, Palm Sunday – The Goal of the Journey
Old and New are drawn together in the words of Isaiah, who says “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard…” (Isaiah 50:6). Then “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” – Jesus himself takes up the refrain from Psalm 22. Everything in the Old finds its fulfillment in the New, and we enter Passion Week reliving our baptism into his death and awaiting the glorious resurrection.
Consider making a Lenten decision to spend some time every week meditating on the Sunday readings, looking through the lens of our covenant relationship with God.
Painting by Caravaggio, sourced from Wikimedia Commons.