THURSDAY: Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Living in Covenant with God
We must always acknowledge God’s overwhelming greatness, appreciate his irresistible kindness, walk humbly in his presence and be obedient to his divine will. We must have the mind of Christ. Make our vows to the Lord and fulfil them (Ps.76:11-12). In other words, faith begs us to make rational choices. We must be faithful to whatever commitments we make to God. Whatever covenant God, for his part, establishes with us is indissoluble (Is.31:2; Num.23:19). God does everything possible to protect our best interest and our salvation – even at a cost to himself (Jn.10:18). God is the personification of perseverance (2Tim.2:13). He never gives up despite our act of infidelity. Why? Because he loves us infinitely. We are his eternal better half.
Divine covenants are designed for permanent commitment between God and humankind. The same applies to spouses who enter into a conjugal relationship in the Lord’s name. In business matters, covenants are legal tools and valid agreements between partners. Covenants safeguard integrity; they beg for sincerity, truth and harmonious relationship in lasting peace and fidelity towards the fulfilment of a communal objective and mission in life. Under the terms and conditions of any covenant, there are inescapable clause and moral imperatives we must fulfil. Only moral fortitude and good faith will keep us faithful to the conditions of our respective covenants. Why? Because the human condition is always marred by struggles coupled with our individual faults and weaknesses.
Consequently, there is never any pure love and perfect covenant free from the test of strength, of mind, of character, and the need for endurance or free from pain and hardship – and sometimes even the anguish of the soul. Imagine Christ taking solace in the prayer of his ancestor David when he prayed the prayer of “the sufferings and the hope of the virtuous man (Ps.22; Matt.27:46)”. Like the best of us, Christ in his endeavour to be faithful to the Father though God had abandoned him on the cross. God did not.
God never puts his subjects through experiences that he himself is unwilling to endure. He prefigured his intentions for his only begotten Son in the actions of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac. Later he did the same with Jephthah whom he asked to sacrifice his only child and only daughter in obedience and fulfilment of his vow made to God in anticipation of his victory over his enemies. For both fathers, it was a moral obligation and a test of moral fortitude they both passed with flying colours because in both instances the son and daughter collaborated with their respective fathers to fulfil their vows to God (Jdgs.11:29-39). How does that relate to us Christians in the world today?
Today’s gospel is a type of the Church, the bride of Christ. All who have received the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist) are in covenant with God through Christ. However, corrupted by the cares of life and of the world, Christians, the Church looks as if they are oblivious of their vows to the Lord. It appears as if there are no longer any moral imperatives. Christians have become so obsessed with cares of life; they are increasingly too busy to sit at the feed of the Lord or to attend the wedding banquet, the Holy Mass, which the Lord has prepared for his chosen ones.
In covenant, tokens of appreciation are insufficient. The most invaluable assets of a covenant are as follows: the gift of one’s self, time, talent, treasure and accountability to each other. With these aspects placed on the altar of sacrifice, fidelity abounds beyond compare.
Lord, you are my ultimate treasure in good times and in bad times, in poverty or in plenty, in sickness or in health, I will strive to be faithful to your covenant until you call be home with you.