God's Mercy Now


SOUL FOOD Talk 10: SALVATION HISTORY, Beatitudes & the MagnificatSOUL FOOD TALK #10 -- SALVATION HISTORY ??? BEATITUDES & MAGNIFICAT Salvation History, Covenants [

Posted by livingchrist on June 11, 2014 at 12:25 AM

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Salvation History, Covenants   []

1.   The Bible gives us history from God’s perspective. It shows us that all throughout time, God is working to bring us salvation.   That’s why we say that the Bible gives us "salvation history."  This salvation history, in turn, hinges upon the "covenants" that God makes with his people throughout the Bible.      What is a covenant? Let’s start with what it’s not. A covenant is not a contract. Contracts are deals where two parties make a promise that involves some exchange of goods or services or property. Usually they seal their contract by giving their "word" - their name - in the form of their signature.

2.  When parties make a covenant, they swear oaths. Oaths are more than promises. Instead of swearing by their own name, they swear by the highest name, by the name of God. Covenants involve, not an exchange of property, but an exchange of persons. You don’t give somebody your services or goods when you swear a covenant oath - you swear to give them yourself.    Marriage is a good example.  It’s a covenant because in the exchange of vows, the woman gives herself to the man and the man gives himself to the woman.

3.  When God says to Israel, "You will be my people and I will be your God," that’s a covenant.  What’s happening is that Israel is swearing an oath to God - to live according to God’s law as His people, His children.  In turn, God is swearing to be Israel’s God, its divine parent.  There are blessings for keeping the covenant and curses for breaking it.           In the ancient world, covenants made families. Even ancient treaty documents between nations used "father-son" imagery.  Outsiders were "adopted" into a tribe through covenant oaths.  So, when we study the Bible we need to see how the meaning of "covenant" is steeped in that ancient idea of family-making.          The whole Bible can be outlined as a series of family-making covenants.

4.  That’s the "point" of the whole Bible story - how God, through these covenants, reveals more and more of Himself to his creatures and asks them to enter into a family relationship with Him. St. Paul sums up God’s intentions, this way: "As God said: ‘I will live with them and move among them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people.’....‘I will be a Father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty." (see
2 Corinthians 6:16-18).

5.  Throughout the salvation history told in the Bible God acts through His covenants to extend the Family of God. He starts small with just two people, Adam and Eve, and proceeds - through Noah, Abraham, Moses, David - until finally all nations are brought into the covenant through Jesus Christ.   [See the readings of Holy Saturday Vigil Mass:
the wonderful works of God for his people since the beginning of time. The readings are:   1.the story of creation, Gen 1:1-2; 2;      2.  Abraham and Isaac, Gen 22:1-18;     3.  Crossing of the Red Sea, Exodus 14:15–15:1;      4. Isaiah: 54: 5-14  ;   “For He who has become your husband is your Maker;  His Name is the LORD of hosts”     5. Isaiah 55: 1-11  “All you who are thirsty, come to the water.  You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat.”    6.  Baruch 4:4  “Blessed are we, O Israel; for what pleases God is known to us.”    7.  Ezekiel 36: 16-17, 18-28      8. Romans 6:3-11;      9. Gospel reading Mark 16:1-7.

6.  The plan from the beginning was to make all men and women into His sons and daughters through the covenants, which are all summed up in Jesus’ New Covenant, where God sends us "a Spirit of adoption, through which we can cry, Abba, ‘Father!’" (see Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5).

7.  The Beatitudes – [ Here we begin to see the difference between “the law” governing  behavior in the old covenant/testament and the Sermon on the Mount containing the beatitudes, the new “law” or guidelines of Jesus in the new covenant/testament.  The law of justice is not done away with, but fulfilled in mercy and love.]

8.  The solemn blessings (beatitudines, benedictiones) mark the opening of the Sermon on the Mount, the very first of Our Lord's sermons in the Gospel of St. Matthew (5:3-10).

9.  Four of the beatitudes occur again in a slightly different form in the Gospel of St. Luke (6:22), likewise at the beginning of a sermon, and running parallel to Matthew 5-7, if not another version of the same.  And here they are illustrated by the opposition of the four curses (24-26).

10.  St. Luke--   20 Then he lifted up his eyes towards his disciples, and said; Blessed are you who are poor; the kingdom of God is yours.         21 Blessed are you who are hungry now; you will have your fill.       Blessed are you who weep now; you will laugh for joy.       22 Blessed are you, when men hate you and cast you off and revile you, when they reject your name as something evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.        23 When that day comes, rejoice and exult over it; for behold, a rich reward awaits you in heaven; their fathers treated the prophets no better.

11.   24 But woe upon you who are rich; you have your comfort already.     25 Woe upon you who are filled full; you shall be hungry.  Woe upon you who laugh now; you shall mourn and weep.  26 Woe upon you, when all men speak well of you; their fathers treated the false prophets no worse.

12.  The text of St. Matthew runs as follows:

  • 1)  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 3)
  • 2)  Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land. (Verse 4)
  • 3)   Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Verse 5)
  • 4)   Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. (Verse 6)
  • 5)  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Verse 7)
  • 6)  Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Verse 8)
  • 7)  Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)
  • 8)  Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 10)

13.  First beatitude    [Blessed are the

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