The Word Among Us

July/August 2019 Issue

The God of Covenant Love

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

By: Jeff Smith

The God of Covenant Love: Dear Brothers and Sisters, by Jeff Smith

In this issue, we take up one of my favorite themes in the Scriptures: the covenant that God has made with us. Of course, we hear the word “covenant” every Sunday at Mass, as the priest recites Jesus’ words at the Last Supper: “This is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant.” Yet like many things in the spiritual life, these words can go in one ear and out the other.

What does it mean that God has made a covenant with us? It means that he has bound himself to us. It means that he has committed himself to love us, to care for us, to protect us, and to lead us to heaven. And the fact that it is an eternal covenant means that he will remain committed to us forever. Speaking through the psalmist, God promises, “My faithfulness will stand as long as the heavens” (Psalm 89:3). Not only has God bound himself to humanity as a whole, but he has made a covenant with each and every one of us. He has bound himself to you!

One of the things I love best about this covenant is that it is based on God’s unconditional love for us, not on our performance. God didn’t say he would uphold his covenant only with those who are perfect. He didn’t say he would uphold it only on those days when we are doing well, but ignore it when we fall into sin. No, his covenant is designed specifically for sinners. In fact, Scripture tells us that Jesus initiated this covenant on the cross as he shed his blood “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28; see also Hebrews 13:20).

An Analogy. Last month (on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul!), my wife Jeannie and I celebrated our thirty-fourth wedding anniversary. Thirty-four years ago, we promised to be true to each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, and to love and honor each other all the days of our lives. Over the years, we have had our fair share of good times and bad times, of sickness and of health. There have been times when we have found it easy to love and honor each other, and there have also been times when it hasn’t been so easy. In the midst of the everyday ups and downs of life, we know we are bound to each other in a covenant of love—a covenant that has been blessed by God many times over.

This analogy of a marriage gives us a sense of what Jesus’ covenant with us is like. He too is with us in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. He promises to love and honor us all the days of our life. And, even better, he promises to be with us always, “until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). What a loving, faithful God we have!

This month, I invite you to deepen your understanding of Jesus’ covenant with you. As you pray over the coming weeks, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how committed Jesus is to you. Ask him to help you see how deeply God has bound himself to you. Remember, this is more than good information. It’s also the good news that God is closer to us than we could ever imagine.

Jeff Smith