When God makes a covenant with us, God says: “I will love you with an everlasting love. I will be faithful to you, even when you run away from me, reject me, or betray me.” In our society we don't speak much about covenants; we speak about contracts. When we make a contract with a person, we say: “I will fulfil my part as long as you fulfil yours. When you don't live up to your promises, I no longer have to live up to mine.” Contracts are often broken because the partners are unwilling or unable to be faithful to their terms.
But God didn’t make a contract with us; God made a covenant with us, and God wants our relationships with one another to reflect that covenant. That's why marriage, friendship, life in community are all ways to give visibility to God's faithfulness in our lives together.
Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey
We are continually trying to make God in our own image, instead of letting him (re)make us in his. We judge God’s faithfulness by our own faithlessness, God's mercy by our own vindictiveness. But God is not like us, and his covenant is not like our contracts.
Jesus spoke of this the night he gave us the Holy Eucharist, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood...” (Luke 22.20) We are living under a new covenant, as the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote (quoting Jeremiah):
This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their minds,
and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
In Christ we have a covenant which is written on our very hearts, not some external document. We have become members of his very body, sisters and brothers in blood, his blood. Oh God, give us the grace to live like it!
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner...