The first reading given for Mass on the feast of Corpus Christi relates a momentous moment in the wilderness experience of the people of Israel.
Moses went and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. In answer, all the people said with one voice, ‘We will observe all the commands that the Lord has decreed.’ Moses put all the commands of the Lord into writing, and early next morning he built an altar at the foot of the mountain, with twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he directed certain young Israelites to offer holocausts and to immolate bullocks to the Lord as communion sacrifices. Half of the blood Moses took up and put into basins, the other half he cast on the altar. And taking the Book of the Covenant he read it to the listening people, and they said, ‘We will observe all that the Lord has decreed; we will obey.’ Then Moses took the blood and cast it towards the people. This’ he said ‘is the blood of the Covenant that the Lord has made with you, containing all these rules.’
Following this event Moses ascends Mount Sinai and receives the tablets of stone confirming the commandments of the Law, and the instructions for the building of the tabernacle, the place of meeting between God and his people that will accompany Israel through its desert wanderings, and will be reproduced in the Temple to be built in Jerusalem.
However when he returns from the mountain he finds the people have turned from the Lord and begun to worship the golden calf.
Moses, in his anger and frustration, breaks the stones bearing the commandments, and the people suffer plague sent by the Lord for their unfaithfulness.
So soon so easily the covenant is broken by the people. And yet even in the people there is a longing for it to be restored, and it will be by one of them, Jesus, faithful son of Israel, God in Flesh, that the covenant between God and Man is irrevocably restored.
Still, of course, there remains the question of our faithfulness to it.
- How do you experience the faithfulness of God, despite your sometime unfaithfulness.
- Today how might you more fully respond to the Lord’s faithful, covenanted love, and share its fruits with others?
Photograph of Judaean Desert. (c) 2007, Allen Morris