Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Abraham - Patriarch of Today's Nations

What is so magnificent about Abraham? Why would God want to create a covenant with Abraham? How does the example of this covenant help us today? Abram lived in Ur of the Chalde'ans (Babylon) about 2000 years before Christ. In Babylon, people worshiped a multitude of gods. As Abram exprienced the One true God, he had to flee for his life for he could not live securely in a place that became strange to him. This happens today too when people migrate to new countries for fear for their lives under regimes that impose restrictions on their freedom. Where there are wars people flee for peace. God educates us through the example of this man. You can flee to another country for your life but there is only one place that will satisfy your heart - the place/state chosen for you by your Father God. Abram followed God... God changed his name from Abram to Abraham when he called him out of Ur (See Genesis 11 and 12) – This is the way God deals with his beloved creatures. He named everyone of us because he knows his creatures not like us who know someone by his name or address but like a mother who knows her children affectionately, lovingly and deeply concerned about each of them. We cannot understand how much God loves, but we can only perceive his love as much as his gift/grace and our willful response to his grace allow us. Abraham simply allowed God to penetrate his life and transform him to a great father of many nations. Abraham obeyed God’s voice in his heart and walked with God to the land that God asked him to go to. This can be metaphoric for us as to whether we allow God to guide us in our journey on earth. None of us can be secure by himself/herself. We need a powerful lover. When we were kids we always depended on our parents to secure us psychologically and materially because we perceived and still perceive that they love us . If you read Abraham’s story in Genesis you will be impressed by his actions as a weak human person who is still loved by the Father of all. When Abraham had to go down to Egypt, he knew that his wife Sarah would attract the Egyptian king by her beauty even though she was old so Abraham said to Pharoe that Sarah was his sister. His lie was still forgiven! Dr. Hahn shows that God promised Abraham three things: to make Abraham a great nation (12:1); to give him a great name (12:2); and to make him the source of blessing for all the world (12:3). God later "upgrades" these three promises - turning them into divine covenants. God swears not only to make Abraham a great nation, He makes a covenant in which He promises to deliver Abraham’s descendants from oppression in an alien land and give them a specific territory of land (see Genesis 15:7-21). Not only will his name be great, but God by a covenant oath swears to make Abraham "father of a host of nations," a royal dynasty - "kings shall stem from you" (see Genesis 17:1-21)...God elevates His third promise by swearing to make Abraham’s descendants "as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore." In Abraham’s descendants "All the nations of the earth shall find blessing" (see Genesis 22:16-18). How did Abraham come to be the father of a host of nations? In Genesis, it is written that Sarah was barren yet God's oath made her pregnant from Abraham's seed. The child was named Isaac and grew to be the figure of the Lamb Christ. Isaac was to be sacrificed by his father. This is probably why Christ says that Abraham saw him (see John 8: 50). Abraham saw Christ in his son Isaac who offered himself as a sacrifice in the same way that Christ offered himself as a sacrifice. The meaning of self-sacrifice is love. Today, when we look back at the story of Abraham we ask who are the descendants of Abraham? Those are the great nations of the Middle East and the West. They are Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Yet they are still fighting today even though they come from the same father Abraham. Jerusalem is, for these three monotheist religions, a holy place where everyone of these "cousins" wishes to worship. Jerusalem is the God-given city of peace. The solution to this problem may lie in doing what Abraham did. Walk with God! But this is another huge question, for no one - it seems - is prepared yet to do it. If Christ is the Truth who Abraham foresaw, can we follow him?

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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