What do words of promise sound like? From children we might hear, “I promise I’ll get my homework done if you let me go out and play.” “I promise I’ll take the dog out and clean up after it every day if we can just get this puppy”. Parents struggling might say, “Promise it won’t happen again”, or “I promise to take care of all of it on the weekend”. Words of promise sometimes lead us to trust issues. “I promise I won’t tell” or “Promise you won’t tell anyone what I am going to tell you”.
What does God’s promise look like? In our First Reading from the Prophet Jeremiah we hear that the days are coming when the Lord will fulfill the promises He made to the House of Israel. What are the words of His promise? God promises to save His people and that a Savior would come into the world. God promises that a virgin will be with child and He will be the cause of the rise and fall of many. God promises to save His people and we are the recipients of that promise. Promise is about trust, it is about belief, it is about acceptance. God trusts us, God believes in us, God accepts us as sinners needing to be saved.
As we walk into church and place our hands into the water of Baptism and our Baptismal font, we are accepting God’s promise. We are walking through that promise to experience His Real Presence in the Eucharist. His promise is found in the covenant of that water. On the day of Baptism parents and godparents make a promise to God. At the day of Confirmation the candidates renew their Baptismal promises and speak for themselves promising to God their commitment to believe and to reject evil. The sound of promise flows in that water and its sound is to wash over us as we make the sign of the cross.
God’s promise comes in the exchange between the Eucharistic Minister and the community as the person holds up the Body of Christ and says with conviction, “The Body of Christ”. It happens when the minister of the Blood of Christ holds the vessel in front of us and says, “The Blood of Christ”. These are words of promise for our hearts to hear. What we receive is the fulfillment of the promise spoken by prophets long ago and now comes to us in this time as the real Body and Blood of Christ. Christ promises to be in that bread and make it His body. Christ promises that He is really present when we take the chalice of salvation gathered in His name and do what He did at the Last Supper. It is the fulfillment of the promise.
The sounds of God’s promise surround us; we are invited to hear with new ears and hearts the richness of His fulfilling grace.
Rev. John J. Ouper