This Sunday’s first reading from the Book of Genesis tells us of the covenant that God made with Abraham. Abraham was not the first person that God made a covenant with. Before Abraham, God made a covenant with Noah after the flood and God would later reaffirm the covenant he made with Abraham with Moses, David, and through the other prophets. So why does this particular act with Abraham stand out? As God fashions his covenant with Abraham in Genesis, he promises to make of him a great nation, but he goes further in promising Abraham that their bond will be unique and personal. A covenant is more than an agreement or a series of promises; a covenant is a sacred relationship.
The covenant that God made with the children of Israel through Abraham is not undone but rather perfected in Jesus Christ and we have been made partakers of that same covenant. This Christian covenant, the same covenant made new in Christ, is both corporate and personal and we are brought into this sacred relationship through baptism. In baptism we are chosen by God and rescued from the power of sin and death. In this wonderful sacrament the promise made to Abraham is also made to us individually: I will be your God and you will be mine.
As with any other form of agreement or contract, a covenant’s value is only as good as each party’s resolve to keep it. The good news for us is that God’s resolve is infinite which is why his covenants are everlasting. God does not relent in his love and he is forever true to his word. So that’s one half of the equation secured. What about us? What about our resolve? I doubt that any of us, if asked, would say that our resolve to maintain our relationship with the Lord is anything but resolute; our words may say that, that may be how we feel, but what do our lives say? Are we living up to our side of the covenant each day? We all know that the reality of sin in our world and in our lives can very easily derail many our best intentions.
Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church has this sacred season of Lent as a gift of God’s love. This season is an invitation from a loving and merciful Lord to examine our lives, our part of the covenant, and truly reckon with ourselves if we are living up to our part of the agreement, or maybe only somewhat, or maybe not really at all. The journey of Lent is a call to return to the grace that was given to us at baptism, when God made a covenant with us individually and thus made us corporate members of his Mystical Body, the Church. In his Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven. God’s covenant with us has made us his heirs, heirs to the Kingdom. Does my life reflect that gift each day? If not then let us use the grace of these Lenten days to make the necessary changes, to be faithful to the covenant so that we may be faithful to the One whose fidelity to us is unwavering.
Father Christopher House is the Rector of the Cathedral and serves in various roles within the diocesan curia, namely Chancellor and Vicar Judicial.