Immersed in Christ: April 2, 2020
Thursday, Week Five of Lent
The Responsorial (Psalm 105) gives one side of the picture: “The Lord remembers his covenant forever.”
Genesis 17: 3-9 is a weak promise compared to what Jesus promised those who accept his “New Covenant.” To Abraham God promised human benefits: “I will render you fertile, make nations of you... give to you the land where you are now as a permanent possession.” But Jesus promises us a “posterity” alive with the life of God; and the Kingdom of God as our “permanent possession” for all eternity. Beginning with Mary, who gave flesh to God himself, we will bear spiritual fruit:
Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
Blessed are we all. Blessed is the fruit of our lives. Like Paul, we are “in the pain of childbirth” until Christ is alive and fully formed in every person. All we help to grow in grace are our “children.”
This is the fruit of discipleship: those who hear the word and accept it” will “bear fruit, 30, 60, 100 times over”:
I chose you... to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last....
My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples....
In Baptism we “died to the law” and to every human rule of life, so that “through the body of Christ” we might “belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God.” This comes through absorption in:
the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. 1
That is just one side of the picture: “On your part,” God asks, “you must keep my covenant throughout the ages.” Christian life is a commitment.
In John 8: 51-59 Jesus claims to be divine: “I solemnly declare it: before Abraham came to be, I AM.” This is the translation of YAHWEH, the self-description God gave when Moses asked him to reveal his “name.” 2
As Christ’s disciples, we study, not just words, but the words of the Word. This makes a difference in our commitment.
We made a covenant at Baptism with the Word of God. It was at the same time a covenant with the words of God: we are committed to seek understanding of the Word through his words. This is a “constitutive element” of being a Christian. To “love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our mind,” we have to use our minds to know him. St. Augustine said, “We cannot love what we do not know.” The conclusion is obvious. We are committed by our baptismal covenant to be “students of the word,” disciples of the Word expressing himself in words. “The Lord remembers his covenant forever.” The question is, “Do we?”
Initiative: Face the Word. Commit to discovering him in his words.
1 Luke 1:42; Galatians 4:19; Mark 4:20; John 15:8, 16; Romans 7:4; Colossians 1:5-6. 2 Exodus 3:14; see Isaiah 41:4-14 and 43:1-13; John 4:26, 6:20, 8:24-28, 13:19, 18:5-8. “I am he” can also be translated, “I am.”