Last week we celebrated the Most Holy Trinity, a mystery revealed to us by Christ himself. I reflected on an aspect of this mystery as a communion of love. Another way of putting it is a “covenant of love.” A covenant is different than a contract, though there are similarities. One similarity is that both are an agreement to enter into a relationship. But, it is the difference between a contract and a covenant that makes a covenant rise above.
A contract enters into a relationship with parties whereby the minimal requirements are agreed upon. For example, the price for a car or a house. We all will seek out an agreement with the seller for a price we are willing to pay, a price that is the lowest we can get. This illustrates how a contract is about the minimal or least the parties will do for each other.
A covenant is an agreement between parties that does not spell out the minimal requirements, the LEAST that we can do. No! A covenant spells out the MOST the parties will do! An example is marriage. This weekend and next, we will celebrate our first two full weddings! Yea! At each wedding, the couple will vow their unconditional love to each other. They will not set boundaries as to what is the least they will do for the other. Nope! They will vow to all of themselves to each other, “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health... all the days of [their lives]” There are no conditions! They will vow to share and give of their whole selves in love for the other. This includes their mind, soul, and bodies. The two will become “one flesh.” Their vows are sacrificial in essence, not secondarily or coincidentally. They will become a sign of Christ’s love for all of us to see and remember, Jesus being the bridegroom, us being the bride.
This sacred covenant is connected deeply to today’s solemnity, Corpus Christi, where we celebrate the great covenant given to us by the bridegroom, Jesus. He also pledged to be with us through our good times and bad... to love us all the days of our lives. Christ, in the image of a bridegroom, has sacrificed himself for us, his bride. He suffered greatly due to our infidelity, yet never left us. He was rendered naked, yet unashamed, for he freely took on all our shame. Despite our infidelities, he continued to be always faithful. He was innocent and still chose us despite our guilt.
When we receive the Eucharist, we consummate our covenant with our Lord. He becomes “one flesh” with us, rather, us with Him! He pulls us and woos us to himself. By his dying, he proved his perfect love for us. Yet, he never left us. His sacramental presence assures us of his continual presence. In this way, he accompanies us on our journey of life. The Eucharist becomes for us our spousal renewal of love. He has prepared a place for us and awaits so that he can lift us up through the threshold of heaven. Every time we come to Mass, we renew our vows of faith in our Savior. And we know he never disappoints. He is always perfectly patient with us. He speaks loving words of guidance through the Scriptures. And since Jesus isn’t just a man, but also God, we worship him, adore him, and dedicate our lives to him. May this Corpus Christi bring us a profound understanding of this Sacrament as well as the Sacrament of Marriage.
Fr. William Holtzinger