Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 16:1-12.15-16; Matthew 7:21-19)
If Abram showed himself in yesterday’s reading to be a man of faith, he betrays that faith in the sequel today. Rather than trusting in God to bring about a great nation, Abram acts against God’s will as it is implied in nature. He accedes to Sarai’s treacherous plan to give him progeny by means of her maidservant. It is wrong because, as Jesus reminds the Sadducees in the gospels, from the beginning one man and one woman were created to form one partnership.
Some background to Abram’s adulterous consent helps to appreciate what the story intends. Abram and Sarai sojourned for a while in Egypt where Abram coaxed Sarai into doing something similar to what she has him do in the reading today. Out of fear for his life when Pharaoh takes a shine to the beautiful Sarai, Abram asks Sarai to join his harem. After Pharaoh experiences hardship, he gives Abram back his wife and chastises him for his deceit. In the reading today, of course, Sarai turns table on Abram by suggesting that he sleep with another woman.
We should draw at least two lessons from the stories. First, marriage has a sanctity that is not to be violated. Wife and husband form an inseparable union that demands sacrifice even, if necessary, of one’s life. Second, and no less insufferable to contemporary ears, we are not to do evil to bring about good. Abram commits a grave sin by acceding to Sarai’s scheme. Although we are to move with God’s promptings, we must never think that God wants us to do what is wrong.