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Faithful is as Faithful Does

First Reading: 

Genesis 17:3-9

When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him:
“My covenant with you is this:
you are to become the father of a host of nations.
No longer shall you be called Abram;
your name shall be Abraham,
for I am making you the father of a host of nations.
I will render you exceedingly fertile;
I will make nations of you;
kings shall stem from you.
I will maintain my covenant with you
and your descendants after you
throughout the ages as an everlasting pact,
to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
I will give to you
and to your descendants after you
the land in which you are now staying,
the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession;
and I will be their God.”

God also said to Abraham:
“On your part, you and your descendants after you
must keep my covenant throughout the ages.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 105:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations –
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Gospel: John 8:51-59

Jesus said to the Jews:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever keeps my word will never see death.”
So the Jews said to him,
“Now we are sure that you are possessed.
Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say,
‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’
Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died?
Or the prophets, who died?
Who do you make yourself out to be?”
Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing;
but it is my Father who glorifies me,
of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’
You do not know him, but I know him.
And if I should say that I do not know him,
I would be like you a liar.
But I do know him and I keep his word.
Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day;
he saw it and was glad.”
So the Jews said to him,
“You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
before Abraham came to be, I AM.”
So they picked up stones to throw at him;
but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area.

NAB

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Today’s reading is all about the covenant. God’s establishing His covenant with Israel through Abraham, and Jesus’ fulfillment and expansion of the covenant from the Jews to all people. Covenant is a hard concept for us in the modern world to understand sometimes, accustomed as we are to the notion of contracts. My husband is a lawyer, so I am well acquainted with contracts. While a contract is an agreement between two people that will be honored as long as both parties do what they said they would, a covenant is worlds beyond any contract.

A covenant says that I will be faithful, regardless of whether or not you are faithful. I will be faithful even in the absence of your faithfulness. This is the promise God makes to each one of us. He invites us gently, as a lover, to enter into a covenant with us, to be the very Lover of our souls. He invites us, knowing full well we will break the covenant, we will lose our faithfulness, we will turn away from God to our petty gods. Knowing all of this, He calls us anyway.

This is also the promise of matrimony, of the sacrament which is also a covenant. On my wedding day I entered into a contract with my husband, acknowledged by the state. But much more importantly, I entered into a covenant with my husband and my God. To love, honor, and cherish this man, all the days of my life. Whether I feel like it or not. A holy priest reminded me in the confessional once that my husband is the only person I will ever make vows to in my whole life, and that is of singular importance.

These readings remind me of my own vows, of God’s faithfulness to me day in and day out. They invite me to extend that same faithfulness to my spouse day in and day out, even—especially—during these tough seasons of intense child-rearing. His love is yesterday, today, and forever. May the same be said of us, when all our days are done.

What has God called you to be faithful to? How can you embody God’s faithfulness to someone this week?

photo credit

Sarah Babbs is a writer and mother of three, including twin toddlers. She writes about faith, social teaching, and navigating life as a motherless daughter and mother. You can find out more about her here.

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