An Eternal Promise

Human beings have been unfaithful to God throughout history, and continue to be so today.

This verse comes from Psalm 105, a long prayer in praise of God’s fidelity to his people. It reflects on how God has been faithful throughout the history of the Jews up to that time, through every stage of their national history. It is divided into six sections. This verse comes in the last section. In it the Psalmist refers to how God had protected them as they escaped their slavery in Egypt and over the forty years of their wandering in the desert, how he covered them with a cloud during the day and guided them by fire at night, providing for their hunger with quail and manna, and for their thirst he gave them water from the rock, water enough to become a river in the desert. Why? Because, “he had remembered his holy promise to Abraham his servant,” a promise he had made long before their slavery in Egypt. And they came into the Promised Land with shouts of joy.

It is this very line that Mary would repeat centuries later in her Magnificat after greeting her cousin Elizabeth when both were pregnant: “He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.” (Luke 1: 54-55)

Fidelity. Faithfulness. It is in this virtue that relationships find their confidence, their nurture, and their sustenance. Without fidelity, there is no relationship. It is recognized in the keeping of promises that are made to the other. It is loyalty, even when times are difficult. It is an allegiance to one another that can withstand the tests that life can bring to threaten a relationship. It is marked by a devotion to the other, a devotion that is rooted in self-giving love on the part of both parties in the relationship. Fidelity is a matter of love.

This is the kind of love that God has had for us since the beginning. Human beings have been unfaithful to God throughout history, and continue to be so today. Yes, even we who call ourselves followers of Christ, we who have seen the fulfillment of God’s promise to us in Jesus, are often unfaithful. Yet, he remains faithful, always quick in forgiveness. God’s fidelity is unbroken. It is free and is given magnanimously. It is rich in kindness and merciful beyond our deserving it. Jesus is God’s fidelity in the flesh. God’s promise and fidelity was made manifest on the cross. In that act, he put an end to the power of sin and death over us. He conquered them with the omnipotent force of his love for us. If we want to see what God’s fidelity looks like, we need look only to Jesus. If we want to understand God’s love for us, we need only look at Jesus.

Lord, we are called to this fidelity as well. We are called to be faithful in our relationships with one another and with you. We are weak, though. The world is full of temptations and we struggle with our egos. Give us, we pray, the grace to enter into the virtue of fidelity with humility and courage. Help us to love one another as you have loved us. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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