SATURDAY OF THE FIRST WEEK OF LENT
READ: DT 26:16-19
Moses spoke to the people, saying: "This day the LORD, your God, commands you to observe these statutes and decrees. Be careful, then, to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. Today you are making this agreement with the LORD: he is to be your God and you are to walk in his ways and observe his statutes, commandments and decrees, and to hearken to his voice. And today the LORD is making this agreement with you: you are to be a people peculiarly his own, as he promised you; and provided you keep all his commandments, he will then raise you high in praise and renown and glory above all other nations he has made, and you will be a people sacred to the LORD, your God, as he promised."
God is faithful, even when we are not. God loves us, even when don't love Him. How do we know? Our reading today can help us understand. Today we hear Moses explaining the terms of an "agreement" that God has made with him (and by extension all of the Israelites). That word "agreement" can be a little misleading. To our modern ears it can sound like God and the Israelites have entered into some sort of contract. A kind of divine gentlemen's understanding that can be broken easily, and without real consequence. What has really happened is much more profound. The Israelites and God have entered into a covenant.
Where a contract is an exchange of goods or services i.e. you mow my lawn, I pay you twenty dollars. A covenant is an exchange of lives. It makes those entering into it family, and establishes an unbreakable bond. This is why we read so often in the bible that God's love for us is analogous to the love of husband and wife, or the love of a good father for his children. It's permanent, passionate, unshakable, and life giving.
The covenant we read about today only applies to the Israelites. However, In Jesus, God extends his covenant-- his life- to all who are willing to believe in Him, and follow his commands. To all who are willing to give their lives in exchange for His on the Cross.
Often, it can be tempting to treat our relationship with God like a contract, instead of recognizing it as a covenant. To treat our faith like just another commitment in our life, instead of life itself. As we continue our lenten journey, lets take a moment to reflect on how profound, how freeing, how good God's covenant love is. Let's also ask ourselves how we can respond more fully with our own. (CREDIT: Dr. Scott Hahn on the concept of covenant and contract)
What is holding you back from entering into your relationship with God with "with all your heart and with all your soul"
Take a moment to read John 15: 1-17. How does it compare to our reading today? How does the idea of 'covenant' help deepen the meaning of Jesus' words?
Take a moment to reflect on the promises/rewards that come from entering into a covenant with Jesus: John 6:54 , John 3:16, John 10:10
How do the sacraments (Especially Baptism and the Eucharist) relate to Jesus' new covenant on the Cross and in the Resurrection?
What is the Churches role in the "new covenant"?
Is your relationship with God more of a contract or a covenant? What are some ways you can grow?
Take extra time today to listen to the "The Sevenfold Covenant" a talk by Scott Hahn and the St. Paul Institute of Biblical Study
RESPOND: PS 34:4-5, 6-7, 16-17, 18-19
R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord! Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart. You have commanded that your precepts be diligently kept. Oh, that I might be firm in the ways of keeping your statutes! I will give you thanks with an upright heart, when I have learned your just ordinances. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me. R. Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord!
What truth that you discovered in prayer today are you going to apply to your life?
For further reading: "A Father Who Keeps His Promises" by Scott Hahn