The first reading at Mass today, the 2nd Sunday of Lent, comes from the book of Genesis and speaks of the covenant with the Patriarch Abraham, our Father in Faith. Here though he is still but Abram!
Taking Abram outside, the Lord said, ‘Look up to heaven and count the stars if you can. Such will be your descendants.’ Abram put his faith in the Lord, who counted this as making him justified.
‘I am the Lord’ he said to him ‘who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldaeans to make you heir to this land.’ ‘My Lord,’ Abram replied ‘how am I to know that I shall inherit it?’ He said to him, ‘Get me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove and a young pigeon.’ He brought him all these, cut them in half and put half on one side and half facing it on the other; but the birds he did not cut in half. Birds of prey came down on the carcases but Abram drove them off.
When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, there appeared a smoking furnace and a firebrand that went between the halves. That day the Lord made a Covenant with Abram in these terms:
‘To your descendants I give this land,
from the wadi of Egypt to the Great River.’
Abram/Abraham and his story are far from uncomplex, far from untroubling to our contemporaries because of cultural differences, but also from the start the inconsistencies, and the ‘wrong choices’, all in the text for all to see, sit alongside the nobility and trust and faith that Abraham also exhibits.
Here though the emphasis is surely more on God. God offers the covenant, pledges his life (God’s life) on his faithfulness (God’s faithfulness.)
Abraham may be our Father in Faith, but God is Father of all, and source of all blessing.
As we come to the Lord in this day and everyday, with our complexities, mess and contradictions let us rejoice in his faithfulness.
Bathhouse in Sufi Monastery, Buna, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (c) 2015, Allen Morris.