The first Reading at Mass yesterday came from the Book of Genesis.
It was part of the narrative about Abraham and Sarah, and the birth of Isaac, their son, God’s promise.
The story is about God’s graciousness to his people, but interestingly this present intervention of God is expressed through Abraham and Sarah’s graciousness to the Lord.
The Lord appeared to Abraham at the Oak of Mamre while he was sitting by the entrance of the tent during the hottest part of the day. He looked up, and there he saw three men standing near him. As soon as he saw them he ran from the entrance of the tent to meet them, and bowed to the ground. ‘My lord,’ he said ‘I beg you, if I find favour with you, kindly do not pass your servant by. A little water shall be brought; you shall wash your feet and lie down under the tree. Let me fetch a little bread and you shall refresh yourselves before going further. That is why you have come in your servant’s direction.’ They replied, ‘Do as you say.’
Abraham hastened to the tent to find Sarah.’ ‘Hurry,’ he said ‘knead three bushels of flour and make loaves.’ Then running to the cattle Abraham took a fine and tender calf and gave it to the servant, who hurried to prepare it. Then taking cream, milk and the calf he had prepared, he laid all before them, and they ate while he remained standing near them under the tree.
‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ they asked him. ‘She is in the tent’ he replied. Then his guest said, ‘I shall visit you again next year without fail, and your wife will then have a son.’
Abraham and Sarah did not know who they welcomed to their table. They were also, the story goes in to reveal, by now unsure that God would fulfil his promise to them of a son.
And yet they are generous and they are faithful. They interpret the signs of the times in order that they may do good for others: ‘That is why you have come in your servant’s direction.’
- What promise of God to you do you treasure and wait for the fulfilment of?
- For whom do you do good today?
Trinity of the Old Testament. Russian Museum, St Petersburg. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.