Fr. John Denburger, OCSO
5th Thursday in Lent
Genesis 17: 3 – 9; Ps 105; John 8: 51 – 59
St. Paul wrote: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction and for training in righteousness so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:16)
By our Baptism, we belong to God because God ardently desires it. We are in covenant with our God, a relationship profound, sacred, all-embracing and surpassing in every way all other relationship we have in this life. The passage from Genesis about the covenant between Abram and God is inspired teaching for us, perhaps for correction, and surely “for training in righteousness.”
From all eternity God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit is in a covenant of love, a covenant we name The Most Holy Trinity. This life, Eternal Life, complete, perfect in itself, in time reaches out and embraces a man, Abram. This, in itself, is worthy of a life-long reflection, of prayerful contemplation. Our God desires to share this inner, divine covenant, this Trinitarian Life with humans, men and women, with us, who, in no way, can reciprocate such providential love.
God changes the man’s name – from being Abram which means “father of height or lofty father” to Abraham meaning “father of a great multitude.” God declares to him and his descendants: “I will maintain My covenant…to be your God and to your descendants forever.” “I will render you exceedingly fertile.” In so many ways this man’s life, his very being is touched by grace, changed and even enlarged.
What does this have to say about our personal covenant with God? By it, we, too, are changed; to our own personal name God adds: “My son….My daughter.” We belong to Him and He to us. There is also God’s promise to be faithful even if we are not: “I will be your God.” And to all this there is an inner transformation: God enlarges our spirit so that we can love Him, love our neighbor as ourselves – I believe one can say there is a certain divine fertility in this – we are “equipped for every good work.”
How important is this covenant to God? How does God see it? Jesus, who can only say what He hears the Father saying, declared, “No one has greater love than this to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are My friends…(John 15: 13) Should we not pray: “Grant me the grace to see this gift as You see it and the strength to live it for Your glory?”