Homilette for Monday, June 22, 2009

Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

(Genesis 12:1-9; Matthew 7:1-5)

In order to appreciate God’s call of Abram from Genesis today, we should take note of the context. Babel has just fallen and with it any illusion that humans will by themselves come to a recognition of God’s preeminence and the need to follow his mandates. Although God has scattered the peoples over all the earth, He still intends to bring them together in peace and harmony. His plan is to forge a new nation with Abram as its leader to be an exemplar of loving obedience for the whole world.

We should notice that Abram is an unlikely candidate for the role. His name means exalted father, but he is, in fact, childless at seventy-five years of age! He is also homeless and nation-less. He does have a wife, the beautiful Sarai, whom he loves – a fact that does offer him some recommendation. He also seems to have some ambition as he responds to the unlikely call to greatness.

God directs Abram to leave his father’s house for a new land. There God will teach him the beginnings, at least, of leadership of a large nation. Abram will thus become a patriarch, indeed the greatest of the biblical patriarchs. But we must add that under God’s tutelage patriarchy carries a meaning quite different from that justly condemned by feminists today. God will teach Abram to be conscious and fair, not arbitrary and self-promoting. He will lead Abram to a consistent respect and tender care for women, not to hardness and domination. He will cherish his children, and not neglect them. These are lessons for us also to heed as we listen to the story of Abram unfold.