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Bukas Loob sa Diyos Covenant Community

REFLECTION FOR MARCH 2009

Word: Obedience and commitment to Christ is faithfulness to God’s
Covenant
Order: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15b)

The word for the month of March is: Obedience and commitment to Christ is
faithfulness to God’s Covenant. We speak here of God’s covenant with his people.
More than a mere contract, God’s covenant does not take effect only upon execution
of certain conditions, as agreed upon by the contracting parties. St.
Jerome’s commentary tells us that in early Hebrew society it matters little if the
agreement is written or not. The spoken word, invested with ritual solemnity, gives it
concrete reality, and once uttered, could not be annulled or retracted. Be it a
blessing or a curse, it follows its course inexorably, and includes terrible imprecations
upon those who should violate the covenant.

This understanding encompasses the Hebrew belief in the relationship between
Yahweh and the people Israel. The covenant is not understood as a bilateral contract
between equals, but as a covenant between the greater and the lesser. And
although the greater imposes his will upon the lesser, it is understood as an act of
grace, liberality and love on the part of the greater. Started in Sinai originally as
covenant under a juridical aspect, a pact between Yahweh and his people, it is
imperfect in the Old Testament, as it remained on the level of shadows and figures,
assuring only imperfectly the encounter of man with God. It is perfected in the new
covenant because Jesus, our high priest, assures us of everlasting access to the
presence of God (Hebrews? 10:1-2). This privilege is now extended to a community
of which men “of every race, tongue, people and nation” have become a part.

However, as the new covenant brings with it some limitations, it is necessary to see it
from the eschatological perspective of the heavenly Jerusalem of “God living of with
men”. They will be His people and He, God-with-them. This is communicated in the
wedding of the Lamb and the Church, His Spouse. Most especially we must go back
to the act by which Jesus founded the new covenant by the sacrifice of His own body
and blood; he has made of men his own body. Therefore, we have Jesus himself, as
God’s covenant personified. This covenant blends all themes at the end of doctrinal
development and to show that, must speak of Sonship, of Love and of Communion.

With this understanding of God’s covenant, what better opportunity is there than in
this season of Lent for us to go into introspection and, with the Holy Spirit as our
guide, revisit our own covenant with the Lord? This season is ushered in by the
application of ashes on our foreheads as a symbol, in the language of the soul –
“Dust thou art and into dust thou shall return!” This puts us into a proper perspective,
reminding us that we should be in a penitential mode; this is not “ordinary time” for
us. It is the time to “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15b). Lent is
always a special time to examine our lives in the light of everything Jesus has given
us. It is a time to ask, “Am I living up to the covenant that I have with God which I
made through this Community?”

As members of the Body of Christ in Bukas Loob sa Diyos Covenant Community, let
us review our Statutes, especially Article 3, to evaluate our commitment to a
covenant relationship that demands loving obedience to the will of God the Father,
undying commitment to the person of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and
openness and availability to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Our covenant also
entails commitment to enter into a relationship with members of the community and
participation in mission, because at the heart of our commitment is the belief that the
essence of salvation is to live our faith in Jesus Christ and in the love of others.

It means upholding the purpose, vision and mission of the BLD Covenant Community
as outlined in the Statutes. It requires Regular Members to undergo the Community
Encounter and Formation programs, Committed Disciples to commit to the Lord and
to the BLD Covenant Community, to observe the five pledges of our covenant, and
Covenant Disciples to freely sign the BLD Covenant composed of a Preamble and
Eight Pledges. More than a signature of pen and ink, we have here a covenant
signed by the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

Let us make this Lent our journey into our inner selves as we go through the five
Sundays of Lent, preparing ourselves on Passion Sunday, for Jesus’ ascent to
Calvary in his complete and total obedience to the will of the Father.

On the first Sunday, Jesus invites us to go into the desert with him in a forty-day fast
that recalls Israel’s forty years of wanderings. During this time of deprivation and self
denial, Jesus wants to teach us how to become strong and courageous in the Lord.
Our hearts are a murky cauldron of grace and sin, angels and demons, and going to
the desert means facing up to our inner chaos and turmoil. Jesus wants to show us
how to let the things that are opposed to him die in the desert. It is where the cosmic
confrontation between God and the devil takes place, though this happens within and
through us. Our part is only to have the courage to be there. This is God’s covenant
with us where he does the work, provided we have the courage to show up. The
desert does this for us. It empties us, so God can fill us. This is where God will
make us realize our total dependence on his love and mercy, and experience the
truth that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes forth from
the mouth of God.

Then on the second week, after bringing us to the desert, the readings take us up to
Mount Tabor to witness Jesus’ Transfiguration. In this setting of glorious splendor,
Jesus wants to convince us that he is God and that we can be transformed as we
gaze upon his glory (Mark 9:2-10). St. Paul also asks us in the second reading: “if
God is for us, who can be against us?”, and if this is so, he will “also give us
everything else…” (Romans 8:31b & 32b). In Christ Jesus we are assured of our
victory.
On the third week, we see Jesus in the temple, confronting those who have turned
his Father’s house into a marketplace. Now that he has opened our eyes and seen
his glory, Jesus wants to open our eyes to see the thieves who are creeping to
occupy the temple of our hearts. He encourages us, as he urges us to overthrow
these sins, just as he cast out the moneychangers from the temple. He can make a
whip out of cords (John 9:13-25) and drive them out from our own temples of the
Holy Spirit. But his covenant of mercy is for “those who love me and keep my
commandments” (Exodus 20:6b).

On the fourth week, we listen as Jesus talks to Nicodemus about how those who live
the truth “come into the light” (John 3:14-21). It is also addressed to us as we
meditate on his glory – transfiguration – prompting us to cast out the thieves from the
temple of our hearts. Being rid of them, we can now experience his light shining on
us more brightly, and we become beacons of light to everyone around us.

On the fifth Sunday, Jesus talks about himself as an obedient and humble “grain of
wheat” who dies so that he can bear “much fruit” (John 12:20-33). He shows us
that every time we deny ourselves in obedience and commitment to him this Lent, we
become faithful to our covenant with God, and bear more fruit. He tells us that it was
“for this very reason” he came into the world – to overcome sin and to bring us into
the promised land of his Kingdom.

And as we journey through this season of Lent, we believe that God is preparing the
way for some miraculous victories in the lives of those who remain obedient and
committed to Jesus. They grow in their faithfulness to God’s covenant and in their
unconditional obedience to his Word. Already he has shown a victorious fulfillment of
his promise in the recently concluded medical mission held in different parts of the
Philippines by our brothers and sisters from our North American districts, assisted by
our local ministries and districts. We saw that in their obedience and commitment to
their covenant, our mission and vision have become concrete reality in our Global
Community. We saw too, how in unity and faith, in humility and compassion, they
become not only alter Christus (like Christ) but more so ipse Christus (Christ himself)
to the Anawim of God. They have brought the light of Christ into the darkened lives
of our suffering brothers and sisters. We saw how God paved the way for them to
reach out in peace and love, despite the fact that at the onset, their mission looked
fraught with trouble, encountering much opposition and difficulties. As long as these
committed men and women respond in obedience to their covenant with him, God’s
healing touch will always reach his people, just as Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly
seen as done in God.” (John 3:21)