HOLY TRINITY CELTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH
CELTIC ORTHODOX BENEDICTINE FATHERS
THE DIVINE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS IS THE SIGN OF GODíS COVENANT IN CHRIST
A covenant is an agreement between two people and involves
promises on the part of each to the other. The concept of a covenant
between God and His people is one of the central themes of the Bible. In
the Biblical sense, a covenant implies much more than a contract or a
simple agreement between two parties.
The Old Testament contains many examples of covenants between people who
are related to each other as equals. For example, David and Jonathan entered
into a covenant because of their love for each other -- this agreement
bound each of them to certain responsibilities (1 Sam. 18:3)
The remarkable thing is that God is holy, omniscient, and omnipotent;
but He consents to enter into covenant with man, who is feeble, sinful,
and flawed. Jesus humbled Himself to become man so we could share in His divinity.
To understand the New Covenant in Christ we must understand the history
of Gods relationship with man. The understanding of the progression of history
is necessary to understand how the Divine Sacrifice of the Mass is the final and only
Sacrifice acceptable to God, an oblation of ourselves and a continuation of the
Sacrifice on the Cross, offered once.
GODíS COVENANT WITH NOAH
Centuries before the time of Abraham, God made a covenant with Noah
assuring Noah that He would never again destroy the world by flood (Gen. 9)
Noah lived at a time when the whole earth was filled with violence and
corruption -- yet Noah did not allow the evil standdards of his day to
rob him of fellowship with God. He stood out as the only one who "walked
with God" (Gen. 6:9) as was also true of his great-grandfather Enoch (Gen. 5:22)
"Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations" (Gen. 6:9). This means he was
perfect in love for god and his fellowman. The Lord singled out Noah from
among all his contemporaries and chose him as the man to accomplish a great work.
When God saw the wickedness that prevailed in the world (Gen. 6:5)
He told Noah of His intention to destroy the ancient world by a universal flood.
God instructed Noah to build an ark (a large barge) in which he and his
family would survive the universal deluge. Noah believed God and
"according to all that God commanded him, so he did" (Gen. 6:22)
Noah is listed among the heroes of faith. "By faith Noah, being divinely
warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark
for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and
became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith" (Heb. 11:7)
With steadfast confidence in God, Noah started building the ark. During
this time, Noah continued to preach God's judgment and mercy, warning
the ungodly of their approaching doom. Peter reminds us of how God "did
not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a
preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the
ungodly" (2 Pet. 2:5)
Noah preached for 120 years, apparently without any converts. That is experienced
by many Priests today who find the world is not listening and is closed to the message
of Christ and His Church.
People continued in their evil ways and ignored his pleadings and
warnings until the flood overtook them. When the ark was ready, Noah
entered in with all kinds of animals "and the Lord shut him in" (Gen.
7:16) cut off completely from the rest of mankind.
Noah was grateful to the Lord who had delivered him from the flood.
After the flood, he built an altar to God (Gen. 8:20) and made a sacrifice, which
was accepted graciously, for in it "the Lord smelled a soothing aroma".
The Lord promised Noah and his descendants that He would never destroy
the world again with a universal flood (Gen. 9:15). The Lord made an everlasting
covenant with Noah and his descendants, establishing the rainbow as the sign
of His promise (Gen. 9:1-17).
Another part of the covenant involved the sanctity of human life, i.e.,
that "whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in
the image of God He made man" (Gen. 9:6).
Every time we see a rainbow today we are reminded of that agreement -- this
covenant has not been done away with. As long as God still sends rainbows after a storm,
capital punishment will still be a part of God's law for the human race.
GODíS COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM
In making a covenant with Abraham, God promised to bless his
descendants and make them His own special people -- in return, Abraham
was to remain faithful to God and to serve as a channel through which
God's blessings could flow to the rest of the world (Gen. 12:1-3).
Abraham's story begins with his passage with the rest of his family from
Ur of the Chaldeans in ancient southern Babylonia (Gen. 11:31)
He and his family moved north along the trade routes of the ancient world and
settled in the prosperous trade center of Haran, several hundred miles to the northwest.
While living in Haran, at the age of 75, Abraham received a call from
God to go to a strange, unknown land that God would show him. The Lord
promised Abraham that He would make him and his descendants a great
nation (Gen. 12:1-3). The promise must have seemed unbelievable to Abraham
because his wife Sarah was childless (Gen. 11:30-31). Abraham obeyed God with
no hint of doubt or disbelief.
Abraham took his wife and his nephew, Lot, and went toward the land that
God would show him. Abraham moved south along the trade routes from
Haran, through Shechem and Bethel, to the land of Canaan. Canaan was a
populated area at the time, inhabited by the war-like Canaanites; so,
Abraham's belief that God would ultimately give this land to him and his
descendants was an act of faith.
The circumstances seemed quite difficult, but Abraham's faith in God's
promises allowed him to trust in the Lord. In Genesis 15, the Lord
reaffirmed His promise to Abraham. The relationship between God and
Abraham should be understood as a covenant relationship -- the most
common form of arrangement between individuals in the ancient world. In
this case, Abraham agreed to go to the land that God would show him (an
act of faith on his part), and God agreed to make Abraham a great nation
Abraham's response is the model of believing faith: "And he believed in
the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15:6)
The rest of Genesis 15 consists of a ceremony between Abraham and God that
was commonly used in the ancient world to formalize a covenant (Gen. 15:7-21)
God repeated this covenant to Abraham' son, Isaac (Gen. 17:19)
Stephen summarized the story in the book of Acts 7:1-8)
THE MOSAIC COVENANT
The Israelites moved to Egypt during the time of Joseph. A new Pharaoh
came upon the scene and turned the Israelites into common slaves. The people cried
out to the God of their forefathers. "So God heard their groaning, and God
remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob" (Exo. 2:24).
After a series of ten plagues upon the land of Egypt, God brought the Israelites out "of
Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand" (Exo. 32:11)
This covenant between God and the people of Israel was temporary -- God promised
a day when He would make a new covenant, not only with Israel but also with all
GODíS COVENANT WITH DAVID
Another covenant was between God and King David, in which David and his
descendants were established as the royal heirs to the throne of the
nation of Israel (2 Sam. 7:12-13).
This covenant agreement reached its fulfillment when Jesus, a descendant
of the line of David, was born in Bethlehem. The gospel of Matthew
starts off by showing Christ was "the Son of David" (Matt. 1:1)
and thus He had the right to rule over God's people. Peter preached that Jesus Christ
was the fulfillment of God's promise to David (Acts 2:29-36)
THE COVENANT OF CHRIST
The New Testament makes a clear distinction between the covenants of the
Mosaic Law and the covenant of Promise. The apostle Paul spoke of these
"two covenants," one originating "from Mount Sinai," the other from "the
Jerusalem above" (Gal. 4:24-26). Paul also argued that the covenant established
at Mount Sinai was a "ministry of death" and "condemnation" (2 Cor. 3:7)
The death of Christ ushered in the new covenant under which we are justified
by God's grace and mercy -- it is now possible to have the true REMISSION of sins.
Jesus Himself is the Mediator of this better covenant between God and
man (Heb. 9:15). Jesus' sacrificial death served as the oath, or pledge,
which God made to us to seal this new covenant.
The "new covenant" is the new agreement God has made with mankind, based
on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This new covenant is continued today
in the Divine Sacrifice of the Mass.
When Jesus ate the meal at the Last Supper with His disciples, (The Seder Meal
of the first born) He spoke of the cup and said, "This is My blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28)
This REMISSION of sins goes beyond mere forgiveness but wipes out the sin
as if it never happened.
When Paul recited the account he had received concerning the Last
Supper, he quoted these words of Jesus about the cup as "the new
covenant in My blood" (1 Cor. 11:25)
The Epistle to the Hebrews gives the new covenant more attention than
any other book in the New Testament. It quotes the entire passage from
Jeremiah 31:31-34) (Heb. 8:8-12). Jesus is referred to by the writer of Hebrews
as "the Mediator of the new covenant" (Heb. 9:15. The new covenant, a
"better covenant ... established on better promises" (Heb. 8:6)
rests directly on the sacrificial work of Christ and continues in the Divine
Sacrifice of the Mass.
The new covenant accomplished what the old could not, i.e., the total removal
or remission of sin and cleansing of the conscience (Heb. 10:2)
The work of Jesus Christ on the cross thus makes the old covenant "obsolete" (Heb. 8:13
and fulfills the promise of the prophet Jeremiah.
Unlike the Mosaic covenant, the new covenant of Jesus Christ is intended
for all mankind -- regardless of race. In the Great Commission Jesus
sent His apostles into the entire world so they could tell the story of
the cross (Luke 24:46-47). In the Mass, as in no other way, we integrate into
the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Jesus is alive under
the appearance of bread and wine in the Tabernacle on the Altar of Sacrifice.
THE DIVINE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS