The key to today’s readings is the word “Covenant”. A Covenant is a solemn and binding agreement between two parties, which establishes the way in which each party will behave towards the other. It establishes rights and duties, and forges a new relationship between two people or groups of people. In the Ancient World, a Covenant was always sealed with a sacrifice and a meal: the sacrifice brought divine blessing on the covenant, and the meal sealed the relationship between the participants. In the Covenant that God forged with his people in the Old Testament, it was expressed very simply: God said, “You will be my people, and I will be your God.” God would remain faithful to the people, and they were to remain faithful to God (this is where the commandments come in). This Covenant was sealed in its greatest form on Mount Sinai, as we hear in the first reading. When the Old Covenant had been broken beyond repair, God sent his only Son to establish a New Covenant: the sacrifice and meal of this New Covenant is Calvary and the Last Supper, where Christ is both priest and victim and altar. When we eat and drink this sacred meal at every Mass we are renewed in the New Covenant and the relationship with God, because Calvary and the Upper Room are present once more and the New Covenant is sealed for us anew.
How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me? The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name. O precious in the eyesof the Lord is the death of his faithful. Your servant, Lord, your servant am I; you have loosened my bonds. A thanksgiving sacrifice I make: I will call on the Lord’s name. My vows to the Lord I will fulfil before all his people.
First Reading: Exodus 24:3-8
Second Reading: Hebrews 9: 11-15
Gospel Reading: Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26