The Mosaic Covenant

Exodus 24:3-8

The Biblical text from the NRSV is always found in the first column.

The reflection by Fr. Dennis Chriszt, CPPS is always found in the second column.

Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”

And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel.

He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord.

Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar.

Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”

Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

They had been slaves in Egypt, set free by the grace of God and the miracles worked on their behalf. They had been twelve tribes, but on that day, they became one people – the people of God. They were descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and on that day, they became heirs of the covenants God had made with them. They had seen wonders as the angel of death passed over their homes and as waters were torn in two and dry land appeared so that they could walk on in freedom. And now, the God who had done so much for them was entering into covenant with them.

This covenant, signed in the blood of the sacrificed oxen, united them to God in a special way. Once the blood of the covenant had been splashed on them, they were stained by the covenant that united them as the People of God. Having only recently been freed from slavery, they didn’t own a lot of clothing, and what they were wearing that day was now blood stained. They had no bleach or other things that might clean their clothing. the rest of their journey, they would see those stains on their own clothes and on the clothes of those with whom they were traveling. They would be reminded of the covenant over and over again.

We, too, have been stained with the blood of the covenant. Though we cannot see those stains on our clothing, we have been stained permanently in the waters of baptism. The water that was splashed upon us that day continues to mark us as the People of God. The waters with which we sign ourselves as we come and go from church, the waters that are splashed upon us whenever we celebrate the Rite of Sprinkling with Holy Water at Mass, stain us inside and out as people of a covenant with the God who saves us.