Roman Catholic Parish


April 7 , 2019

Dear All,

One day this past week, I recalled a fact that re-opened a whole world of new insights for me: covenant.

The notion of covenant is absolutely critical to understanding the Old Testament which is the story of a series of relationships founded on God's initiative in reaching out to 1) the human race in Noah, 2) Abraham and his descendants, 3) the people whom he freed from slavery in Egypt, 4) the heirs to David's kingdom. There is, as well, a 'new and everlasting covenant that is hinted at by the prophet Jeremiah, but we must return to that at another point.

We live in a world and a network of relationships constituted, pretty much, by our choices. Where we live, what our budgetary priorities are, who we hang out with, what apps we use, what car we drive, who gets on our Xmas-card list, what church we attend, and on and on and on …. We even take it for granted that people can choose the national identity of their offspring by giving birth to them in a particular geographical location! And folks are actually choosing the sex of their children and the date of their own death! But a covenant is not the result of our choosing; God creates covenants by his choices.

This, you see, is one of the perks of divinity: before, while and after everything and everyone, God is. There is no fact, phenomenon or feeling that is more real that God; no truth that makes any sense apart from the truth that God is. Thus, when God chooses … someone, something, some course … there are fences and shelters and paths and roadblocks created by that choice. Any other choice finds itself supported by the will and power of God, or condemned, frustrated and doomed to failure by that same choice and power.

Dante says that God is he 'whom to serve is to reign'; and Satan knows that hell is created by a simple I will not serve.

Because we like to expand the spheres of our importance, we try repeatedly to expand the bounds of our freedom (that is what makes the Supremes' doctrine of a right to privacy so attractive and so dangerous). Thus, what we notice about covenants is that they create limits and obligations on us (e.g. the Decalogue or the chosen-ness of the Jews that makes anti-Semitism a sin). What we fail to notice is that they simultaneously create guarantees of Divine favor and approval for those who acknowledge them and who choose to love a covenanting God.

What is really galling, though, is that my taste in people or my 'people sense' is utterly irrelevant in a world where God makes the determining choices. In such a world, a decision to kill, to ignore, to punish, to snub - or, for that matter to choose for my own purpose and advantage - can so easily lead me down the path of being at odds with God!

This is turning out to be a really rich vein of thought. We'll bring it back next week for sure; and maybe the one after!

Really and truly and promisingly yours,



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