This week we continue on our journey through readings expressing the special relationship of God to God’s people. Last week we heard of God’s covenant with Noah and all humanity, today we are reminded of God’s covenant with the descendants of Abraham – next week we will hear of the covenant with Israel.
In Old Testament times covenants were agreements between kings and those people in their sphere of influence. They regulated rights and responsibilities in the relationship and to give some form of security and stability a bit like modern day armistice agreements or peace treaties. God asks obedience of Abraham and in response promises thriving and abundance of life.
Unlike the covenants of the time, God’s promise is an invitation given freely. Abraham is already 99 years old when God makes this covenant with him. It is not Abraham’s proven obedience but God’s choice to grant this covenant. Abraham does not prove his obedience (if he ever had to) until chapter 22. We are invited into this covenant. We do not have to bring anything in advance, we can trust that God give us just enough strength to be able to respond with obedience.
Why do I write all this? Because there are so many times I catch myself chastising myself for not doing enough to respond to God’s invitation.
God does not need our doing – he wants us (as human) being(s). Jesus brings this to a point in today’s Gospel. “For what will it profit [us] to gain the whole world and forfeit [our] life?” For today this is our biggest challenge.