Memory of the Church

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Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.
.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Genesis 17,3-9

And Abram bowed to the ground. God spoke to him as follows, 'For my part, this is my covenant with you: you will become the father of many nations. And you are no longer to be called Abram; your name is to be Abraham, for I am making you father of many nations. I shall make you exceedingly fertile. I shall make you into nations, and your issue will be kings. And I shall maintain my covenant between myself and you, and your descendants after you, generation after generation, as a covenant in perpetuity, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And to you and to your descendants after you, I shall give the country where you are now immigrants, the entire land of Canaan, to own in perpetuity. And I shall be their God.' God further said to Abraham, 'You for your part must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you, generation after generation.

 

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

The experience of exile and foreign domination-the era in which this passage was written-had reduced Israel to a small remnant which saw God's promises put to the test. Promises for a great a numerous people possessing a fertile land, a stable country where they could prosper and live in peace and security. In these moments of slavery, privation and suffering, Israel remembers the old promises, the "perennial covenant" God made to Abraham to make him "father of a multitude of nations" and to live in the land of Canaan. In remembering this covenant, they do not simply recall an ancient memory, they are not returning to a glorious past. They actually render the promise real. And this happens each time which Scriptures are listened to, even for us Jesus' disciples. When we open the Sacred Scriptures, above all during moments of common prayer, it is the Lord who comes down again in the middle of his people and speaks. He rebuilds us as a people which is listening to his Word. He strengthens us with his Spirit. He gives back his dream and reinvigorates the calling to be witnesses to his love in the world, and he assures us of the promise for the future. This is why God can ask of Abraham and also us: "As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations."