Posts Tagged ‘God’s Two Covenants’

Fulfilling Our Part of the Covenant (U)

Thursday, March 17th, 2016

St. Patrick’s Day

Thursday of the 6th Week of Lent

Gen 17: 3-9; John 8: 51-59

Dc. Larry Brockman

An Everlasting Covenant!  God has made two everlasting covenants with his people.  The first reading talks about the first of these; and the Gospel refers to the second one.

When we hear about that first covenant,  It seems to make promises in earthly terms-  the descendants of Abraham are to reap the rewards of the Covenant God is making with Abraham.  Israel will be God’s people and He will be there God for as long as Abraham’s descendants keep God’s commandments.  And God includes “the promised land” as part of that covenant for as long as they keep it- the promised- land, Canaan.  And so, the Israelites understood that covenant in worldly terms.  Yes, they would retain God’s favor; and they would live in the promised land as a people forever if they kept God’s commandments.  But they didn’t see the symbolic meaning of the covenant.  They didn’t get the afterlife and forever and ever part. They didn’t see life after worldly life as a priority.

Now, in Jesus’ time the Jews were being held captive by the Romans.  There were movements amongst them aimed at rebellion and breaking free.  They were looking for a Messiah- a worldly Messiah- who would restore the covenant God made to Abraham.  In addition, although the religious leaders were split into two camps (those who believed in the Resurrection of the dead- the Pharisees; and those who did not- the Sadducees), all of them were focused on that restoration of the worldly Kingdom.

It is within that context that Jesus ministry entered in first century Israel.  Here comes a person who had demonstrated incredible powers in his miracles, and who spoke with authority.  The leaders had heard about all of this from the people, and so, they listened to Jesus.  But they were looking for a political leader- one who would save their nation.  Was this their guy or not?

But instead of talking about his plan to restore Israel, Jesus talks about the interior life of the individual.  And so, he says: “Whoever keeps my word will never see death.”  You can just imagine their consternation.  And it shows in the dialogue in today’s gospel.

Jesus focus was on saving each and every one of them for everlasting life.  There are two deaths- one that effects our bodies in this world; and one that effects our bodies in eternity.  We certainly will suffer the first death; but we can be spared the second death- if; if we listen to Jesus, the incarnate the word of God.  And so Jesus was not talking about restoring a worldly Israel; rather he was talking about restoring each individual’s standing with God.

This year we find ourselves in the middle of a particularly messy political environment.  We are a people polarized; a people divided; a people faced with difficult choices;- choices that may be the lesser of two evils rather than choices that we can embrace.  The question is; what are our real priorities in the middle of all of that.  Are we looking for a worldly Messiah?  Or are we listening to Jesus, who is trying to tell us what we need to do to avoid real death?

We are also in the middle of Lent- and today’s message is a Lenten message.  The New Covenant that God offers us is everlasting life; life without that second death if- if we listen to the incarnate word of God.

We need to spend some time reflecting on how we are doing.  We need to put aside what’s going on in the world.  Our church and Jesus are trying to call our attention to that because as important as our nation is; our own salvation is more important.

If all of us live according to the word of God, doing the will of the Father as Jesus did; everything else will fall into place; and we will never die.