Will: yours, mine, and His
The old covenant also suffered from the personal failures of its human participants. That is why the rituals mandated by God in the Torah are sometimes denounced by God in other books of the Old Testament. The first chapter of Isaiah expresses this quite forcefully:
Ah! sinful nation,
people laden with wickedness,
evil race, corrupt children!
They have forsaken the LORD,
spurned the Holy One of Israel....
Trample my courts no more!
Bring no more worthless offerings;
your incense is loathsome to me....
When you spread out your hands,
I close my eyes to you;
Though you pray the more,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood!
Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil;
learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow.
Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red,
they may become white as wool.
If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
But if you refuse and resist,
the sword shall consume you:
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!
The rituals of the old covenant were tarnished by the evil will of the people. Even their pious prayers were made repulsive by their evil deeds.
This contrasts with the perfection of our Lord, as expressed in today's first reading (quoting Psalm 40:7-9)
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight in.
Then I said, 'As is written of me in the scroll,
Behold, I come to do your will, O God.'"
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews goes on to add:
By this "will," we have been consecrated
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ
once for all.
As for us, it is certainly good and important for us to do the right things - morally, liturgically, and devotionally - but it is a matter of life and death for us to have the right will.
This goes beyond just good deeds and good intentions (which are mandatory), eternal salvation comes from the will of God and our being conformed to that will in Christ.
With Christ and by his grace
(through his sacrifice once for all),
we must be able to say
at every moment of our lives,
"Behold, I come to do your will, O God."