The New and Eternal Covenant is a mutual exchange of persons, initiated by God’s free and overflowing love, in the form of a sacrifice and a solemn agreement. We find this in the Sacraments of Holy Eucharist, Holy Orders, and Holy Matrimony. During the Mass, as the priest prepares for the Consecration, he says, “Pray, brethren (brothers and sisters), that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father.” My sacrifice and yours! In the sanctuary we watch the ministerial priest, in persona Christi capitis, prepare for his sacrifice while, in the pews, we the royal priests, prepare for ours.
The Exchange of Persons with God
Rabbi Kefa told us, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” 1 Pet 2:9. Each of us, as a royal priest, offers the sacrifice of our self to Rabbi Yeshua. This is why the Holy Eucharist is the § 1324 “source and summit of the Christian life.”
In the primacy of sacrifice we recall that, from the beginning, when God gives to us, we his image and likeness Gen 1:26–27 also give to him. Since Rabbi Yeshua is true God and true man, by imitating him we become more and more like him. What we see Rabbi Yeshua do, we also do. Pope Paul VI wrote in Gaudium et Spes, § 22:
The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light.… As an innocent lamb he merited for us life by the free shedding of his own blood. In him God reconciled us to Himself and among ourselves … By suffering for us he not only provided us with an example for our imitation, he blazed a trail, and if we follow it, life and death are made holy and take on a new meaning.
Thomas à Kempis’ classic, The Imitation of Christ, Book IV Chapter 8, confirmed it.
What more do I ask than that you give yourself entirely to me? I care not for anything else you may give me, for I seek not your gift but you. Just as it would not be enough for you to have everything if you did not have me, so whatever you give cannot please me if you do not give yourself. Offer yourself to me, therefore, and give yourself entirely for God — your offering will be accepted. Behold, I offered myself wholly to the Father for you, I even gave my whole Body and Blood for food that I might be all yours, and you mine forever.
Holy Communion with Rabbi Yeshua is a mutual giving of self, an exchange of persons in the New and Eternal Covenant. Rabbi Yeshua gives himself to us whole and entire, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, and we consume him. We give our self to him whole and entire, our body, blood, soul and humanity, all that we are and all that we have, that he might consume us, take us into himself, into heaven. Father Cantalamessa tells us: “Applied to the Eucharist, this means that the incorruptible and life-giving flesh of the Incarnate Word became mine, and also that my flesh, my whole incarnate reality, became Christ’s truly his very own.” This is why the Holy Eucharist is the § 1324 “source and summit of the Christian life.”
We give our life to Rabbi Yeshua by preparing for heaven. We prepare for heaven by reflecting his glory back to him and to all those around us, becoming more like him than like the fallen humanity we are. Rabbi Yeshua always forgave, even from the cross, and told us: “You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment” Mt 5:21. Faithful Catholics are a people spiritually apart, shining lights in this dark and darkening world. Fallen humanity seeks revenge but Rabbi Yeshua’s faithful forgive. Fallen humanity is filled with lust but Rabbi Yeshua‘s faithful are chaste. Fallen humanity is filled with hate but Rabbi Yeshua‘s faithful are filled with love. Rabbi Yeshua’s family is visibly his image and likeness.
Rabbi Yokhanan HaMatbil on first seeing Rabbi Yeshua, proclaimed, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Jn 1:29. This exchange of persons is how Rabbi Yeshua takes away the sins of the world. When we give him everything, all that we are and all that we have, that he might consume us, is how he takes away our sins. When he gives us his Body and Blood, we consume his shining purity. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Mt 5:8.
Giving ourselves to him whole and entire is a titanic battle. Our pride resists strenuously, wants to withhold something. We have to empty ourselves Phil 2:7 to make room for the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew root krv gives us three closely related words. The first is korban, the Temple sacrifice. The second is karov, close or near. Our korban makes us his krovi mishpakha, intimate family. The third is krav, battle. True sacrifice is always a battle. The name Israel itself reflects a struggle with God. “Your name shall no more be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed” Gen 32:28.
If we give him anything less than our self whole and entire, a lifelong commitment to put him first in every time and place, we are giving him Cain’s careless sacrifice Gen 4:5. Jeremiah’s vision of two baskets, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten,” Jer 24:3 reminds us that God will accept the good fruit, but not the bad. St. Paul warns us to keep the New and Eternal Covenant: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” 1 Cor 11:27.
Rabbi Yeshua, knowing our fallen nature, gave us an emergency backup plan, the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, and encourages us to use it frequently. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” Mt 16:19; 18:18.
The Exchange of Persons with One Another
Rabbi Yeshua told us, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” Jn 13:34–35. We are God’s image and likeness Gen 1:26–27. As the incarnate Rabbi Yeshua loved us, we are to love one another with the same love. Rabbi Yeshua was ready and willing to die on the Cross for us. He expects us to be ready to die on the Cross for him. “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it” Mt 10:39.
Certainly this requires God’s abiding grace. He gave us this grace during our baptism, when we were baptized into his death Rom 6:3–4. And it is possible for men. American soldiers in combat platoons overseas often say openly that they are a band of brothers, willing to die for one another, and they do. We see men jump onto a live grenade, choosing certain death so that nearby soldiers would live. Most are known only to God, and sometimes within their band of brothers, as Catholics who live and die for love of one another are known always to God, and sometimes within their families. A very few are canonized as saints, and very few soldiers who live and die for one another are added to the rolls of Medal of Honor recipients. An even smaller number founded the United States of America on that principle: “Our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
Holy Mother Church’s Communion Rite includes the Rite of Peace, the priest’s fulfillment of Rabbi Yeshua‘s heartfelt prayer that our oneness may be as the Holy Trinity’s oneness Jn 17:11, 22: “Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles: ‘Peace I leave you, my peace I give you.’ Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church, and graciously grant her peace and unity in accordance with your will. Who live and reign for ever and ever.” As a sign of our hope for that peace and unity we reply, Amen.
The priest then says, “The peace of the Lord be with you always,” and we reply, “And with your spirit.” In this way the priest reminds us of a crucial distinction. We are called to love one another.
The calling to like one another is different. We are a fallen race, very different from one another. Some people are just plain difficult to like. St. Thérèse of Lisieux showed us how to gain heaven by loving and liking even disagreeable persons. Rabbi Yeshua calls us to love our neighbor’s soul, to wish him well in this life and in the life to come, and do what we can to help him reach heaven, even as we make a prudent judgment that this can best be accomplished at some distance from him.
In the spiritual war as Rabbi Yeshua’s soldiers we are fighting against Satan’s forces Eph 6:12. Every human soul is God’s image and likeness, Gen 1:26–27. If we acquiesce in, or worse root for, any human soul’s loss, we had better remember Rabbi Yeshua, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get” Mt 7:2.
When the risen Rabbi Yeshua blessed his shlikhim, “Peace be with you” Jn 20:19, 21, 26, he was referring back to his earlier, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” Jn 14:27. The Hebrew root shlm gives us shalem, completion, and shalom, peace. In the Hebrew mind, only completion brings true peace. Rabbi Yeshua was telling them, “Heaven be with you.” So, when we turn to one another in our pews and greet our neighbor, “Peace be with you” Jn 20:19, 21, 26, or, “The peace of Christ,” short for the priest’s, “The peace of Christ be with you always,” we are committing our immortal souls to our heartfelt love of neighbor, and by extension, God’s image and likeness Gen 1:26–27 everywhere in the world.
From Rabbi Kefa to Constantine there were 33 popes. Thirty were martyred and two died in exile. Each one stepped into the papacy in full knowledge that he would likely be martyred. In Rabbi Yeshua’s New and Eternal Covenant, each time we consume the true Blood of Christ Jn 6:51–58 we recall that Rabbi Yeshua shed his blood for our salvation.
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” Rom 6:3–4. We Catholics, his image and likeness Gen 1:26–27, need to be always prepared to shed our blood for the salvation of others Jn 15:13.
Father John A.Hardon told his disciples again and again, “Catholicism is in the throes of the worst crisis in its entire history. Unless true and loyal Catholics have the zeal and the spirit of the early Christians, unless they are willing to do what they did and to pay the price that they paid, the days of America are numbered.”
Rabbi Yeshua teaches us the New and Eternal Covenant of the Holy Eucharist through the ancient covenant of Holy Matrimony, in which the husband gives himself to his wife, whole and entire, all that he is and all that he has, and she gives herself to him, all that she is and all that she has, and they become one flesh. We become one flesh with Christ in Holy Communion. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” Jn 6:56.
The Catechism, § 1385, teaches: “To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. Rabbi Paul urges us to examine our conscience: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” 1 Cor 11:27–29.
Two things come from Rabbi Paul‘s brief passage. First, did you notice the grammar? “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread OR drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body AND blood of the Lord.” Consuming one species unworthily profanes both species because they are the same spiritual substance, Rabbi Yeshua‘s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, Rabbi Yeshua whole and entire.
How would we receive unworthily? If we are tempted to go up to receive Holy Communion without preparation, without experiencing any real sense of Holy Communion with Rabbi Yeshua but only so that others will see us receiving, we need to reflect again Rabbi Paul‘s words. “For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” 1 Cor 11:29. Far better to go up with our arms crossed over our chest and simply ask for a blessing, or wait until we can once again receive the King of Kings as he should be received.
If we give him anything less than our self whole and entire, a lifelong commitment to put him first in every time and place, we are giving him Cain’s careless sacrifice Gen 4:5. Jeremiah’s vision of two baskets, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten” Jer 24:3, reminds us that God will consume, take into himself, the good fruit, but he will not eat bad fruit. Rabbi Paul warns us to keep the New and Eternal Covenant: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord” 1 Cor 11:27.
“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes” Acts 2:4.
We receive Rabbi Yeshua’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, whole and entire, all that he is and all that he has. And we give him our body and blood, soul and humanity, all that we are and all that we have.
§ 662 “and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he always lives to make intercession for those who draw near to God through him. As high priest of the good things to come he is the centre and the principal actor of the liturgy that honours the Father in heaven.
§ 762 The remote preparation for this gathering together of the People of God begins when he calls Abraham and promises that he will become the father of a great people. Its immediate preparation begins with Israel’s election as the People of God. By this election, Israel is to be the sign of the future gathering of All nations. But the prophets accuse Israel of breaking the covenant and behaving like a prostitute. They announce a new and eternal covenant. “Christ instituted this New Covenant.”
§ 2787 When we say “our” Father, we recognize first that all his promises of love announced by the prophets are fulfilled in the new and eternal covenant in his Christ: we have become “his” people and he is henceforth “our” God. This new relationship is the purely gratuitous gift of belonging to each other: we are to respond to “grace and truth” given us in Jesus Christ with love and faithfulness.
The Gifts and the Calling of God
The Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews’ document, The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable, § 32, declares, “Through the prophets God in turn promises a new and eternal covenant (cf. Is 55:3; 61:8; Jer 31:31–34; Ez 36:22–28). Each of these covenants incorporates the previous covenant and interprets it in a new way. That is also true for the New Covenant which for Christians is the final eternal covenant and therefore the definitive interpretation of what was promised by the prophets of the Old Covenant, or as Paul expresses it, the “Yes” and “Amen” to “all that God has promised” (2 Cor 1:20).
See also Covenant.