In the first reading, God makes an offer, saying, “Listen to my
voice, then I will be your God, and you shall be my people.”
He was there asking the Israelites to renew their covenant with
him. A covenant, of course, is a special contract in which the parties exchange
not only substances of value, but they exchange their very selves.
In the hundreds and hundreds of marriages where I have
officiated, I have always asked the same question, “Have you come here freely,
and without reservations, to give yourself to each other?” If they have given themselves to each other,
they are no longer two, but one flesh.
Look at the scene in Exodus, Chapter Twenty-Four where God
entered into a covenant with the Israelites.
At the foot of Mt. Sinai, the young men had built an altar
representing God, and they had gone off to fill brass bowls with the blood of
steers. Meanwhile, the whole people assembled themselves before the altar and
Then, as Moses called out each of the Commandments, the
people shouted their promises to abide by them. As they were assenting, the
young men were going through the crowd, sprinkling each person with blood, then
emptying the remaining blood from each brass bowl onto the altar.
Since the Israelites believed blood to be life itself, the
blood on each of them and on God’s altar made the people one with each other and him. “You will
be my people, and I will be your God.”
At the Last Supper, and at its renewal in our Mass, Jesus with his blood initiates the New Covenant between us and with him.