The first reading, from the book of the prophet Isaiah, is an invitation to seek the Lord. Four words stand out: water, wine, bread, everlasting covenant. These words look back to the Old Testament and look forward to sacramental gifts of the Messiah.
During the Exodus, Moses struck the rock in the desert and provided water for the people. Jesus is the new Moses who offers living-giving water to those who believe in him. Isaiah’s invitation to the thirsty to come to the water is fulfilled as an invitation to go to Christ, the source of living water, and to the waters of Baptism. Through Baptism, we are cleansed from sin and welcomed to the wedding banquet of the Messiah.
The second word is wine. The Messiah, the people of Israel knew, would bring the wine of gladness to them. In the miracle at the wedding of Cana, Jesus reveals that he is the Messiah who provides wine for the people (Isaiah 25:6). At the last supper, the wine Jesus gives is truly his own blood to drink.
The third word is bread. Those who thirst, those who hunger, are satisfied, not because they pay money and obtain food that gives earthly life; they are satisfied because they receive freely from God the food of eternal life. In the Gospel, Jesus’ miracle of the five loaves and two fish looks back to the Old Testament: to Moses who gave the people manna in the desert, to Elijah who provided and flour for the widow during the famine, and to Elisha who multiplied the twenty loaves for one hundred men. Jesus surpasses all of them and promises something even greater: bread that gives eternal life.
The fourth word is “everlasting covenant”. When we look back, we see the succession of covenants: the creation covenant with Adam and Eve, the covenant with Noah, the covenant with Abraham, the covenant at Sinai and at Moab, the covenant with David, and the promise of a new and ever-lasting covenant in the prophets. The new covenant of Jesus Christ brings all of these to fulfillment. The water of baptism is our way of entry into the new covenant. It is not a simple ritual washing, but rather a burial with Christ and a rising with Christ. It is a share in his passion, death and resurrection. It is birth to new life. The wine of the Eucharist is the blood of the new covenant; the bread of the Eucharist is the bread of life, the Body of Christ.
The bonds of the New Covenant are strong. Paul asks today, “what can separate us from the love of Christ?” He responds that there is nothing external that can separate us from the love of God: anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or the sword. No creature, no angel, not even death, can separate us from God’s love. However, the sin we commit does separate us from God. God loves us and desires our salvation; our sin, though, is a refusal of that love and that salvation. Remaining in sin is a refusal of his merciful love. We have no need to fear our God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. He is just and holy, near to all who call upon him in truth.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.