Monday, January 5, 2009

The Covenant heart of the Eucharist

I want to explore with you the loving mercy of God in the Eucharist. This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. How often those solemn Eucharistic words of Consecration are pronounced and we scarcely notice them.

Let me tell you one of the world's most beautiful stories of merciful and steadfast fidelity which illustrates the meaning of Covenant-love -- the love that lights up the Bible, and that lies at the heart of the Eucharist. The story in all its rich detail will enable you to plumb the depth of the words of consecration:

The story is of two young men who were contenders for power and glory. One was Jonathan, the son of King Saul. The other was David, the young man who had slain the giant Goliath with a sling and a stone. Although David had done valiant deeds in defence of the kingdom, Saul treated him badly. Things came to such a pass that David had to fly for his life. Jonathan, the King's son realised that David was not only a good man but that he might very well inherit the throne in due course. Now in anticipation of what disaster might befall either party, they looked to the future by making a pact between themselves.

Covenant and Contract
They made what the Bible calls a covenant. A covenant is a solemn agreement, whereby not only goods are exchanged but there is a commitment of persons to each other. By way of illustration, note the two elements in marriage. It is at once a contract-“This gold and silver, I thee give and with all my worldly goods, I thee endow.” But more than this, is the giving of Bride and the Bridegroom to each other. “With this body, I thee worship…” That is the covenant of marriage which binds husband and wife to each other until death do them part.

The Covenant in Bible terms had two particular qualities: kindly mercy and loyal steadfastness. As in a marriage, the Biblical qualties of mercy ensured a protection between the partners - a protection that would endure.

Cloak and belt and sword
By way of expressing this committment or covenant, Jonathan took off his princely cloak and gave it to David. This symbolised the merciful protection of the king's son. When people would see David so dressed they would respect him. Moreover, Jonathan conferred on his friend his own splendid sword and the belt which would have held his purse and his money. With these David could overcome his enemies and be able to survive the hardship of the ensuing campaign.

Sensing that Saul and himself would be overcome in the ensuing battles and that David would come to power, Jonathan made this plea of mercy to one he now saw as the future king: “If I am still alive, show your servant faithful love and mercy. If I die never withdraw your faithful love from my family. Jonathan then renewed his oath to David's since he loved him like his very soul.
Core values of Covenant
God has entered into a covenant with us, his people. That covenant, has those same core-values: expressed all over the Scriptures as a love that is steadfast, and faithful mercy. Other terms may be used , but they amount to the same thing.

Mercy brings together the two parties to the covenant: The great and good Father, pouring out his merciful love and his poor and lowly people crying out for it. The Father sends his Son among us so that the covenant may be sealed in his precious blood. On the Cross the prince of peace is stripped of his royal robe that we sinners may be clothed in his mercy. In return he takes away the rags and the remnants of our sinful lives. As we abandon our own poor defence, The Spirit gives that shining and splendid sword enabling us to overcome evil and emerge victorious. In the next section, we will see some further consequences of this Eucharistic covenant.

No comments: