In the first reading today from Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abram. In the Gospel reading from Matthew 7, Jesus talks about false prophets and how you can recognize them. “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit…So by their fruits you will know them.” Always a good reminder for us to take a look at the fruit we are bearing for the Kingdom.
The scene that we see played out in our first reading today certainly seems very foreign to our modern sensibilities. First of all, most of us would find animal sacrifice to be reprehensible. Yet, as we see in Genesis 15, this is how God sealed the covenant between he and Abram. God had Abram cut in two a heifer, a goat and a ram and place each half on different sides of the altar. In the evening, God, in the form of a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, passed between the halves of the dead animals. Now, we may view this as gross, but there was certainly a message and a purpose for this.
A covenant is serious stuff. Unlike a contract, a covenant is a total giving of self. And to show the seriousness of a covenant, it had to be sealed in blood. In the old covenant, God chose to use the blood of animals. By passing between the halves of the animals, God was in essence saying, “Here is how serious I am. If I should break faith in this covenant, may this (the shedding of blood, the splitting in half) happen to me.” Of course we now know that thousands of years later, God would, indeed, shed His own Blood to seal the new and everlasting covenant.
Father, we thank you for sealing your covenant with us in the Blood of Christ Jesus. May we never break faith in the new Covenant. Amen.