Southern star constellation. Photo: bigstock/Allexxandar
For the past seventy years, I have been learning more about the first covenant and the following four covenants granted by God to historical families, beginning with Abraham, to Moses, to King David, and reaching their highest representative in Jesus of Nazareth.
My admiration has kept growing for this unfolding plan of God to lead all people towards their full potential as living images of their Creator. Only now has it struck me that the Creator may also have set in the heavens another sign which could include those four later covenants. Soon, the Southern Cross emerged as an appealing second sign for me.
Today Pope Francis is a world leader in his appreciation of all creation and in his pleas to protect it, especially on our tiny planet home. We believe that God the Father is this vast expanding universe's Creator and wise governor. Astronomers tell us that it has about a hundred billion galaxies. And each galaxy has about a hundred billion stars within it! Earth is a twinkle among at least a hundred billion other stars within the Milky Way, as our galaxy is called.
Two signs to be spotted in our own galaxy could be the rainbow, occasionally seen by day from any continent, and the Southern Cross, permanently visible by night in the southern hemisphere. The latter is a striking constellation with five stars forming a cross. Now each star reminds me of one of the five biblical covenants.
Each covenant begins with God's kind promise, leading to a sacred agreement between God and selected people invited to be recipients and channels of God's blessings. Each chosen family freely accepts the astonishing invitation to receive God's gifts and live as God calls them. Each covenant is ritually sealed, usually with the sacrificial blood of animals.
From now on, any sighting or mention of the Southern Cross will remind me of the covenants as follows:
- The first star, at the top of the cross, reminds me of the covenant with Noah, as mentioned at the start. It was offered to the renewed human family "for all ages".
- The second star, on the left arm of the cross, stands for the covenant with Abraham and Sarah, then continued with their descendants through Isaac and Jacob. Through that patriarchal family, all the families are to be blessed.
- The third star, on the right arm, stands for the covenant with Moses, whom God sent to free the Israelites (Jacob's descendants) from slavery in Egypt. As a free and emerging nation, they accepted their obligations to live by the Ten Commandments at Mt Sinai. They insisted, "All that the Lord has said, we will do". Then Moses sealed the covenant with sacrificial blood cast over the altar and the people. They became the people of God, and God was their only God. They set out from Sinai for the land of Canaan, which God had promised them through Abraham about five centuries earlier.
- The fourth star, a small one between the right and bottom stars, recalls the covenant with David, predominantly "a king after God's own heart", to whom God promised that his dynasty would stand firm forever. David's agreement was given by continuing to live under the Mosaic covenant as a devout leader of God's chosen people.
- The fifth and brightest star, at the foot of the cross, recalls the covenant made through Jesus of Nazareth. He is God's beloved Son, born into the human family as the Son of Mary. He was also hailed as the "Son of David", authorised to proclaim the kingdom or reign of God as present while working to guarantee it would endure forever. His hidden life and public ministry prepared the people of God for the new covenant. It was to bring to perfection the demands and spirit of the Mosaic covenant. At the Last Supper with his Apostles, Jesus announced the sealing of the new covenant in his own blood. Taking a cup of wine, he said, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you" (Lk22:20). That night in the Garden of Olives, he accepted, on behalf of all his human family, the key obligation, praying with anguish, "Father, not my will but thine be done". The next day the new covenant was sealed by Jesus dying on a cross under the charge of "Jesus of Nazareth, king of the Jews". The four earlier covenants have been brought to perfection by this King. Now risen from the dead, he continues sending his Spirit of love to help people of every nation and race accept and enjoy life within the new family of God.
Now I am happy to conclude that the five stars of the Southern Cross have given me an excellent reminder of all five covenants. It helps me see how the new covenant, sealed on the cross by Jesus, is closely linked to the earlier ones right back to Noah and his caring Creator.
Columban Fr Chris Baker has turned 95 this week and resides in Essendon.
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Mar 27, 2023 at 11:49 AM
Happy birthday Fr Chris, God bless you.
Mar 27, 2023 at 11:51 AM
Michael McCarthy ('30), pastor of Tienmen 1936-7, will be rejoicing in Heaven.
Mar 27, 2023 at 11:53 AM
Congratulations on reaching this great age, Fr Chris. You have certainly made me look at the Southern Cross with "different" eyes. Thank you.
Mar 27, 2023 at 11:55 AM
What a wonderful and inspiring way to think of the beautiful Southern Cross and God's 5 covenants