A Unique Relationship
In today's First Reading, Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8, Moses reminds the Israelites of their unique relationship with God.
First, God is about to give the Israelites the land that He had promised them. They are about to enter into their new home, a place specially designed for their prosperity and happiness, a place where they may worship God and obey His law in freedom. They will no longer be oppressed by their Egyptian masters or wander through the desert. They are about to be at home with God.
Second, God has given the Israelites specific instructions about how they must behave toward Him, toward each other, and toward the people around them. These laws and decrees are not designed to be burdensome or oppressive but rather to instruct the Israelites in wisdom. Human beings have a knack for choosing exactly what is worst for themselves, and God's people had already shown that they could be extremely stubborn. After all, they had complained, whined, and tested God the whole time they were in the desert. God needed to set some rules to teach His children how to behave.
Third, God is making Israel into a great nation, a nation that other people will admire. Other nations will compliment Israel for its wisdom and intelligence, and the Israelites will serve as an example to the entire world if only they follow the law God has set down for them.
Fourth, God is close to Israel. He hears His people whenever they call upon Him. The other nations have no experience with such a God, for their own “gods” are merely wood and stone and cannot possibly answer their prayers. God, on the other hand, always responds to the Israelites, for He is always with them.
We Catholics also have a unique relationship with God, for we are the new Israel of the new covenant that Jesus Christ established when He died on the cross and rose again that we might be saved.
Like the first Israelites, we receive a new home, a “promised land,” when we enter into the Church at baptism. The Church is designed for our prosperity and happiness. In her, we worship God and obey His law in freedom as we journey towards our ultimate homeland in Heaven.
God has also given us specific instructions on how we must behave towards Him, towards each other, and towards the people around us. These decrees are not meant to be burdensome but to make us wise and to help us imitate God and more easily share in His divine life.
Although the Church does not have political boundaries as Israel did, she is still a society to be admired. The Church is the Body of Christ, the soul of the world, and the sacrament of salvation. She is both divine and human, both holy and always in need of purification. She manifests to the world the mystery of Christ. She is an example to all people, and as her members, we are to be examples to all people.
Finally, God is close to us. When we are in a state of grace, He dwells within us, in the deepest part of our souls. He hears and answers our every prayer. He is closer to us than we are to ourselves. Further, we Catholics have the unique privilege of receiving our God, Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. God becomes our food and drink. How can anyone get closer than that?
Indeed, we Catholics, like the Israelites before us, have a unique relationship with God. Take some time today to ponder that wonderful truth.