Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 25:5.8-20a; Matthew 8:28-34)
One should be taken aback when God affirms Sarah’s desire to get rid of Hagar and Ismael. What, after all, has the slave woman done to deserve banishment? But Sarah is right to think that if she and Abraham are to parent a great nation, there cannot be competition about religion and bloodline in their home. Importantly, God promises to care for Abraham’s illegitimate family. He will not allow the innocent to suffer without mercy.
Building a nation is not the same as building a modern nation state. All nation states today are conglomerates of peoples and religions. Racial, ethnic, and religious tolerance must be even surpassed by a spirit of communal cooperation if a modern state is to become a truly wholesome place to live. Singapore, where a large variety of peoples live together in harmony, models the modern ideal.
In the home, however, a strong sense of religious identity enables children to grow in love of God, neighbor, and self. We should not be reluctant to insist that adolescents attend mass with us. When a couple is from different religious traditions, the Church asks the Catholic partner to do what is possible to raise the children as Catholic. This does not mean that she or he must make an uncompromising demand but that there be a serious discussion of the issue with an attempt to persuade the other about the merits of the Catholic tradition.