Thursday, April 10, 2014

Keep His Word

God also said to Abraham: “On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”  Genesis 17:9

Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’  You do not know him, but I know him.  And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar.  But I do know him and I keep his word. John 8:54-55

Father, help us to continue moving away from the sins of Adam.  By following in the footsteps of Jesus, we can learn the ways to move from keeping our own agenda to keeping your agenda.  Please continue to send the Holy Spirit upon our journey to show the way when our mind, our heart and our eyes may be distracted.  Amen.

This covenant is a two-sided agreement.  From Abraham to Jesus, it is clear that we have to hold up our side of the contract to keep his word. Yet, what does that mean: “Keep his word?” 

In Leviticus, keeping the covenant was a set of strict rules.  Do this.  Don’t do that.  Yet, when pressed in the New Testament, Jesus offers much more complicated answers.  Keeping the covenant is less about following a prescribed path but it is more about making the changes needed in our selfish ways.

The covenant in John’s Good News is rooted in the connection between the message from John the Baptist and Jesus.  That message can be summed up in one word:  Repent.  Change. But it is a change in which we turn (with a sense of sorrow) from our old ways to something new, something different, something better.  As Fr. Tom Keating would say, “Change the direction in which you are looking for happiness.” 

Two additional examples of this new covenant we can study are found in Jesus’s interaction with Nicodemus and the rich man.  In the evening lessons to Nicodemus, we learn, “[W]hoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”  (John 3:21).  Knowing the truth and living the truth become the goals.  Not knowing the box score pf last night’s Yankee game or the Final Four.  Not having a great retirement outlook.  Not a big salary, car or house.  Our study and action have to be aligned with learning the Word as exemplified by Jesus and acting upon it. 

The other example is in the encounter with the rich man.  The covenant is revealed to go beyond following prescribed commandments.  As [Jesus] was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”  (Mark 10:15) 

The answer is to change course. This man’s course was following the money and the old laws.  To do inherit eternal life, we must roll away the stone that blocks our view of Jesus.  We must untie ourselves from what connects us to this life.  And we must come out of our mortal existence and follow the example set by Jesus…and example of marked by hearing the word of God and living it out.  Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  (Mark 10:21)

There are seven days left in Lent until Holy Thursday.  What new paths can you continue to blaze in the journey?  Will those paths lead to the Garden next week?    

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