Let’s play a little word association game. What word do you think of when you hear the word “promise”? You might think of words such as “believe,” “commitment,” “sacrifice,” and “love.” One such word that is also associated with the word “promise” is “covenant.” For me, the word “covenant” transcends the word “promise.” “Covenant” carries a weight of belief, commitment, sacrifice, and love that binds heaven and earth together. Covenants are associated with God connecting with man, whether it’s during Baptism, Confirmation, the Sacrament of Marriage, Holy Orders, Confession, Anointing of the Sick, and yes, the Eucharist.
When we kneel down during the Consecration, the priest raises the wine over his head and says “Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.” But what kind of covenant is Jesus talking about exactly?
The answer can be found in the third chapter of John’s Gospel, specifically John 3:16
“ For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
Belief is where the New Covenant begins. To be honest, it is hard to believe at first, even for a Cradle Catholic like me, that God would love the world with all its major, major flaws that He would send His only Son to save it. But that’s exactly what happened. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17)
This brings us to the second part of the New Covenant: Commitment. John 3;16 is, in my honest opinion, the most quoted Bible verse ever. You might’ve seen that verse as a bumper sticker, on a t-shirt, or during a football game. There have been entire books written on John 3:16. But then, during a retreat, the pastor gave a homily that took the fanaticism behind John 3:16 and turned it on its head. He said that it wasn’t enough that we know the verse and believe in God, but that we actually live our lives filled with Christ.
The third part of the New Covenant focuses on Jesus’s sacrifice. As I’ve said before, Christ was not only the perfect sacrifice, but also acted as a priest who made that offering of himself. In doing so, he eliminated the separation caused by sin. As the letter to the Hebrews says: “For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf...He has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice.”
Finally, the New Covenant centers on love. There’s a beautiful song by Danielle Rose called “You Matter” which centers on how each person, each soul that God creates is a unique and special thing. Pay attention to these particular lyrics: “I desired that not even one would be lost/So I gave my Son as a gift on the cross/Granting access to the tree of life once again, So you might live forever in my covenant.” God gave His Son to the world, that is true, but He also gave Jesus for each and every individual of the world, which includes you. Even if you were the only person in the world, God would’ve sent Jesus to die for you anyway. How amazing is that?
I encourage you to take today’s passage with you in prayer today, hopefully in front of the Blessed Sacrament. God bless, dearest sisters in Christ!