Sunday, 20 June 2010
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, Shaftesbury
Most of us tend not to think about the Old Testament part of the Bible very much, we certainly don’t tend to read it and identify ourselves with the Israelites there. Most of us don’t think of ourselves as Israelites, or as Jewish, or as children of Abraham.
However, in our 2nd reading St Paul says that we “are the posterity of Abraham, the heirs he was promised”(Gal 3:29).
Now, this raises a few questions: Why would I WANT to be a heir of Abraham?
To answer that question we need to go back to almost the very beginning of the Bible, the beginning of the Old Testament, i.e. the Jewish, Scriptures, to encounter the person of Abraham.
Abraham wasn’t anyone special –and this is a key point.
He was no-one special and yet God chose him, chose him to bless him.
Abraham was a wandering nomad (Dt 26:5), as the great creedal statement of the Old Testament says: “My father was a wandering Aramean “(Deut 26:5)
Abraham had no land, he was no-one special, but God chose him to bless him.
And God made him three promises (Gen 12:1-7):
(1) “I will make you a great nation”(12:2); with descendants as many as the stars of the heavens (Gen 15:5)
(2) The Promised Land: “To your descendents I will give this land”(12:7)
(3) His name would be great: “all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you”(12:3).
In our modern world we are so used to think of ourselves as complete individuals that much of what was promised to Abraham may not seem very relevant.
But, for most of human history people have not just viewed themselves as individuals, but have considered the family, the tribe, the nation that they belonged to as something incredibly important –something that they depended on for their existence. Without this sense of belonging a person would be weak and vulnerable and fearful.
In such a context, to be promised a land, and be promised a great number in your tribe, and to belong to such a great body, would be a great thing.
Even today, though modern people give much less thought to their nation or group, even today we often worry about our weakness, our vulnerability and our lack of security.
And so to have the promise made to Abraham be something we share in is important.
What was true of Abraham physically is true for us spiritually.
He was promised an earthly home, a land.
We are promised a spiritual home, heaven –this is an even greater promise because unlike an earthly land it will not suffer physical ills like drought, and will be eternal not temporary.
He was promised a physical family.
As the Church, we are part of the spiritual family of all those in Christ.
To be an inheritor of the promise made to Abraham is to inherit the promise of the Promised Land.
We, as Christians, follow Christ the Jewish Messiah. And Christ was not just the Messiah but as such was THE great descendent of Abraham, THE offspring of Abraham (Gal 3:16)–the promises to Abraham were realised in Christ.
By being baptised into Christ WE were re-born as one with Him in inheriting all that He has promised as the seed of Abraham. Including the Promised Land of Heaven, the eternal security it will bring, and the glad fruits of that happy land.
And that is something that every reasonable person should want to share in, should want to be a child of Abraham.