Six hundred years before the birth of Christ Jeremiah spoke about the New Covenant that Jesus would inaugurate.
A covenant is a contract. Now a contract is an agreement in which the parties exchange something of value to each. Most of us have entered into automobile contracts or housing contracts in which we gave money in exchange for a car or a condo. Or maybe it was the other way, with our giving the car ro house in exchange for the other party’s money.
A covenant is a special contract in which the parties give each other their very selves. I have officiated at many weddings at which my key words were, “Have you come here freely, without reservation, to give yourselves to each other in marriage.
There was a similar exchange of selves in the Bible’s Old Covenant. God described it by saying, “You will be my people, and I will be your God.”
By that exchange of selves the parties become one. By both the Old and the New Covenants the parties became one with each other and with God.
Chapter Twenty-Four of Exodus describes the two-step ratification of the Old Covenant. The first step had Moses exacting pledges from the people to be one with God by accepting the moral code that flows from his nature. In announcing each of the Commandments he demanded and received a loud agreement to live by that law.
Next Moses had the young men slaughter a great number of bulls, catching the blood of the animals in large brass bowls. Each young man, with his bowl of blood, moved threw the crowd, sprinkling blood on every person, but saving a potion of the blood to pour on God’s altar. With their kosher notion that blood is life itself, they all saw themselves as becoming one people with God.
The New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah comes into being at the Last Supper and Crucifixion. (And in our Mass.) In receiving the blood of Christ we enter into the New Covenant with him.