Posts Tagged ‘The Covenant’

Matthew 5: God’s Yardstick – The Law of Love – Part I

Happiness and the Beatitudeslaw-of-love

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

In these opening days of a new year, we have looked at women in scripture who see and use God’s yardstick in their lives. Over the next few days we explore how we find God’s yardstick in both Old and New Scripture.

As we move from the Old Testament to the New, God is moving us away from the external, vengeful, jealous, patriarchal God to a God of the internal. Through the prophet, God promises us a new covenant to replace the old. The Lord says, “The time is coming when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.  It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and led them out of Egypt. I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people”. (Jeremiah 31:31-33)

God who writes the covenant of love on our hearts, also comes among us a human. God who promises to redeem and save, also comes to dwell within as Spirit. In the Old Testament, God rewards good people and punishes the bad in order to gain their trust. In the New Testament, God calls us to spiritual maturity, God calls us to perfect union, to deep intimacy (Psalms 42 and 62). In the New Testament God asks that we accept the Creator, the giver . . . rather than the gifts.

love-one-anotherJeff Cavins, in his lecture on Matthew 5, outlines four levels of happiness: 1) instant gratification, 2) personal achievement, 3) philanthropy, and 4) union with God. The first two are about the self; the second two are about the other. Level one concerns the ego and what it can find, acquire or possess. Level two refers to awards we receive. Both of these levels give immediate satisfaction but are not lasting because, as scripture points out, we are created for more than this. In Level three we begin to move outside of ourselves to care about others, but this still is not lasting, not beatific. It is when we arrive at Level four that we find real happiness, real communion with our creator, intimate union with God. This is the union for which we are created. This is the Law of Love that supersedes the Mosaic Law of the Covenant. This is the measure with which God measures creation.

Tomorrow, The Sermons on the Mount and the Plain.

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 5, 2007.

Jeff Cavins visit: http://jeffcavins.com/

Images from: https://edifier1.wordpress.com/tag/the-law-of-love-lessons-from-the-pages-of-deuteronomy/ and https://www.huttobible.com/a-year-through-the-new-testament/post/2-john-1-a-simple-request:-love-one-another

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Deuteronomy 31:24-30: Alive Among You

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Ark of the Covenant

We have spent the past few days looking at how the Israelites struggle to remain faithful to Yahweh, the Living God who led them from slavery to freedom, from the desert to a land of promise.  We can see ourselves in these stiff-necked people as we turn to and away from God as the season suits us.  We read the story of how an unassailable enemy eventually falls once the Israelites turn themselves over to Yahweh’s ways.  And we can see ourselves being delivered from adversaries we once thought unbeatable.  The Israelites are such simple and predictable people that Moses knows they will fall away from the covenant they have entered into; and so he tries to prepare them for the days when they will yield to temptation. We too, know that we will be lured by the many attractions the world holds for us . . . and so in our Lenten journey we may want to spend a bit of time reflecting on how to best cleave to the promises we make to this amazing God who persists in loving us into goodness.

Take this scroll of the law and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord, your God, that there it may be a witness against you.  The Law of the New Covenant, the New Testament, is not complicated.  It is brief, universal and compelling: Love one another as I have loved you.  Perhaps this weekend we can write out a simple promise to love God by loving others – even and especially our enemies – and put it in a special place that we will see each day as a reminder . . . a witness to ourselves.  A new ark of a new promise made in a new hope of conversion.

I already know how rebellious and stiff-necked you will beAnd the Living God loves us despite these faults.

Even now, while I am alive among you, you have been rebels against the LordAnd the Living God who loves us so fiercely has returned as the Christ to save us.

Assemble all your tribal elders and your officials before me, that I may speak these words for them to hear, and so may call heaven and earth to witness against you.  Perhaps we can gather our family or a group of trusted friends and agree together to turn ourselves toward the goal of living the law of love.  Perhaps we can support one another in our hope of softening our stiff necks, in our Lenten journey of conversion.

We are blessed to have the Lord always among us each day, all day.  As New Testament people we experience Eucharist with Christ, the indwelling of the Spirit, and the abiding protection and love of the Living God.  Let us take a moment today to think about the passage we make from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday, the passage that we call Lent.  And let us pause to give thanks to the God who loves us so well . . . and who is always alive among us.

A re-post from March 16, 2012. 

If you are able, spend some time today with the  A Journey of Return – Repentance reflection on this blog.  Tomorrow we will ponder the words of Moses’ prayer: The Song of Moses

For more on The Ark of the Covenant click the image above or go to: http://bible-blog.org/what-is-the-significance-of-the-ark-of-the-covenant.php

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Deuteronomy 5-8: The Covenant – Part II

Saturday, June 2, 2018

We explore a few Favorites as we consider that Christ is The Life we hope to live. 

Exploring these chapters of Deuteronomy, we return to the Readers’ Guide, page RG 112: “One of the themes that sets Deuteronomy apart from earlier thinking in Israel is that God’s promises either to Moses or to David are not simply guarantees that God will stand by this people with protection and help, no matter what they do.  Earlier theologies of God as divine warrior that always fights for his people is now transformed into a new view of God who will uphold the covenant and all of its terms, including blessings and curses, according to how Israel keeps its part of the treaty.  The stress falls on both faithful worship and social justice as ideals for Israel.  Repentance and change of heart are often required if Israel is to return to covenant loyalty”. And so we see that God’s love is merciful and ever present, yet requires us to forgive because God will forgive all who repent.  God, being God, must forgive us because God is good.  God longs and aches for us to answer the call to love, just as the prophet Hosea longs for his harlot wife Gomer. God is always waiting with outstretched arms, asking us to own our faults and ask forgiveness. Perhaps the difficulty of this kind of living is reinforced by Jesus when he says that he has come to “set the world afire”.  (Luke 12:49)

The writer of Deuteronomy tells us in Chapter 8: “Be careful to observe all the commandments I enjoin on you today, that you may live and increase, and may enter in and possess the land which the Lord promised on oath to your fathers”.  In this way, we know that our promised land awaits us. All our impossible dreams wait to be fulfilled In accord with our covenant, we only must turn, repent, repair and ask forgiveness.  Then will God’s all encompassing, ever-abiding, deeply trusting love restore us to our best potential.

God in heaven, God of all, we know that you are constant, just and compassionate.  Be patient with us as we search here in the desert for the narrow path that leads to you.  Save us daily through Jesus Christ.  Send your Holy Spirit to abide in our small little temples that we maintain in constant waiting for you.  Stay with us, comfort us, restore us.  Amen.

From a reflection written on August 25, 2007.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. RG 112. Print.   

Tomorrow, our life in the New Covenant. 

Image from: https://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/easter-covenant/

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Deuteronomy 5-8The Covenant – Part I  

To learn more about the Old and New Covenants, and how they relate to one another, click on this image.

Friday, June 1, 2018

We explore a few Favorites as we consider that Christ is The Life we hope to live. 

Spend some time with the book of Deuteronomy if the hours appear for you this week-end.  It is a beautiful story that retraces the Hebrews desert path, but in a more lyrical style than the Book of Exodus.  From the Deuteronomy introduction in the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE page 187: “Moses presents the theme of covenant renewal in a vital religious framework”.  The book itself has a “covenant structure” in this way – it has six parts which are typical of an ancient covenant: 1) a preamble which identifies the king who offers the treaty, 2) a historical prologue listing the gracious deeds of the lesser king, 3) the legal stipulations binding on the lesser king or vassal, 4) the provisions for public reading of the agreement, 5) the list of gods who witness the treaty and 6) the curses and blessings that fall on those who keep or break the covenant.  (Senior, Readers’ Guide, 107)  There is much more in this essay that makes the reading of this book come alive, but what is most important here is the fact that the people of the time saw this agreement as a binding treaty with their creator . . . and they took great solace in knowing that this treaty was in place.

So may we today, for Jesus came as a fulfillment of this treaty.

In chapters 5-8, the law is laid out and, if we are able, we will want to pay special attention to chapter 8 because here God’s expectations of us are clear. We also find what we might expect of God if we fail to worship God alone; it we fail to put aside all other idols.  The curses as well as the blessings are always listed in a covenant.

We live in a relativistic culture today in which we hear the constant drumbeat that we are free to choose how we live. And this may be true.  We hear the insistent message that the purpose of religion is to make us feel good; but those who speak this message leave out a vital part of the covenant treaty.  It is true that salvation, redemption and restoration are open to all.  Jesus comes to tell us that his salvific act is intended to be universal . . . all may be saved.  But today’s “feel good” society wants us to believe that there are no consequences for our actions as long as we can convince ourselves that “we mean well,” or “Jesus is merciful and forgives all”.  This kind of thinking erases the idea of justice from God’s nature and the expression of God’s love to us. Yes, God’s love is merciful, and God is just.

Tomorrow, Christ demonstrates how we are to live this merciful justice – and this just mercy – in the promised land . . . for this is life in Christ.

From a reflection written on August 25, 2007.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.187 & RG 107. Print.   

Learn more about the Old and New Covenants by clicking on the image from: https://actheologian.com/2016/04/25/old-vs-new-covenant/ 

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Psalm 27: Seek Trust – God’s Face

Morgan Weistling: Kissing the Face of God

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

This is one of my favorite Psalms. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom should I fear?  The Lord is my life’s refuge, of whom am I afraid?

We all seek God’s face.  This is what we miss so much in our pilgrimage on this planet.  Where do we find this face? The psalmist tells us: In the temple. 

This week’s Mass readings are from Exodus and we hear again the story of how Moses erected a desert tent as the temple that housed the covenant promise that the people held with God.  And God came down to speak with Moses and to the people in the form of a fiery column of smoke.  This column was both guide and protector.  The temple eventually traveled to various cities in the Kingdom of Israel, Jericho, Shiloh, and others, until it eventually rested in Jerusalem – where it ceased to travel and became permanent . . . and corrupt.

The Messiah arrived to replace that temple and to tell us that each one of us is a temple – to be kept holy and sacred for the Spirit’s in-dwelling, to be God’s presence in a struggling world.  And this is what we agree to as part of our own personal covenant with our creator.  That we will trust God and live in accordance with God’s statutes, that we will love God and practice the Greatest Commandment daily, that we will do our best to be People of Hope as we follow The Way that Jesus walked while here on earth.  As the psalmist says, I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy. And the sacrifices I offer are the little and big trials which I undergo daily.

We are all apostles sent forth with this message.  We are journeying together with a clear map to follow.  Again the psalmist, aware that enemies lurk along the roadside, says, Lord, show me your way; lead me on a level path because of my enemies.

The final exhortation sung by the psalmist is, Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!

And the people say . . . Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite written on August 2, 2007.


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