I would like to concentrate on the first reading this week
because it speaks volumes about the mystery of God’s relationship with us.
First of all from this reading of the covenant ceremony in 2nd Genesis
we understand that
God longs for our friendship.
We know this because it is God who took the first step.
God introduced himself to Abraham,
our Father in Faith.
By reaching out to Abraham
God also reaches out to us his descendents.
When He introduces Himself to Abraham He introduces Himself to all of humanity for all time.
During His encounter with Abraham God even mentions us when he says.
“Your descendents will be as numerous as the starts.”
It is important to note that when Abraham asked for proof of God’s love;
God used the rituals and symbols common to Abraham’s time to establish His covenant and make His promise clear.
During Abraham’s time, to prove one’s faithfulness to a covenant or solemn promise it was the custom to
slaughter some animals,
which were very valuable possessions,
split them in two,
which was no easy task,
and then have both parties walk through them.
When a person walked through the carcasses it was like saying,
if I break my promise or my covenant
then may I end up like these animals
dead and split in two.
It kind of inspires fidelity doesn’t it.
Notice that Abraham does not walk through the carcasses,
probably because God knew that we his descendents would be unfaithful.
In this covenant ceremony only God makes the promise of faithfulness.
While waiting for God to appear and seal the covenant,
we read that a terrifying darkness came over Abraham and the covenant sacrifice.
Birds of prey swooped down and tried to steal the sacrifice of the covenant.
Scholars tell us that the birds of prey in this passage represent Satan’s desire to distract us or frighten us from God’s covenant and our promise.
It becomes clear from that line that keeping the covenant will not be easy.
During the ceremony God revealed His presence in two ways.
God appeared in the form of a smoking pot which represents God’s holiness.
And He appears in a flaming torch.
When God appears as a flaming torch it was
His way of promising that He would guide us on your journey.
So from the torch we learn that the light of God’s love
and God’s word
and God’s actions will guide us home.
What does all of this mean to us?
God has given us life.
God has given us relationship with Him through covenant He made with our Father Abraham.
Our relationship with God is a covenant a serious commitment a solemn promise.
It should never be broken
However collectively and individually we have broken over and over again,
yet God remains faithful in every age and every generation.
The covenant proves
He loves us and longs to be loved by us.
The covenant proves to us that our God is not distant
or removed or hidden from us.
God could have expressed His covenant or relationship with us in any way he wanted
but he chose to use the rituals and customs of Abraham’s time.
He chose to use what was familiar to Abraham.
This teaches us that we should never look for God only in big or mysterious signs.
We should not look for God only in His power and might.
We need to recognize the signs of God’s presence in our everyday lives.
God’s presence can be found in…
In the silence of an empty Church
In the good works
Kneeling before the Eucharistic presence
The beauty of creation
The love and companionship of a friend or family member
Indeed everyday every hour and every moment of our lives.
With the Covenant ceremony God reminds us that,
He will leave the footprints of His love in ordinary things here and now.
We have to grow better at noticing them and appreciating them.
When we are afraid,
when we feel that we are lost,
when all that surrounds is the darkness of doubt and fear,
The covenant ceremony teaches us that God’s light will be there in the darkness,
like it was on that evening with Abraham
and like it has been over and over again throughout history.
We must simply and patiently search it out. God want us to find it.
Without the light of God’s truth we would never be able to find our way home to him.
Without the light of God’s truth we would never really understand ourselves of the meaning of our lives.
And finally the reading shows that God’s covenant demands a response from us.
It shows that living the covenant will not always be easy.
Like Abraham fought the birds of prey we must fight the temptations of infidelity.
This little passage should challenge us by God’s example
to be more faithful
in our own relationships with each other and with God.
We need to be faithful even when others are not.
It sounds so hard but that’s exactly how God is with us.
Over and over we are unfaithful
Over and over we break the covenant
Over and over God takes us back
God always remains faithful
The covenant ceremony push us to try with our whole heart to love like God loves.
So much of our pain and the pain of others,
So much of our hurt and the hurt that others experience,
is because of infidelity,
infidelity in our business relationships,
infidelity in our friendships,
infidelity in our marriages,
infidelity in our religious vocations
infidelity in our families,
infidelity to God’s will and God’s law.
The world would be such a different place
If we simply were ever able to be faithful like God is faithful
God of faithfulness help us be more faithful.