(Optional) Memorial of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, martyrs
(Genesis 12:1-9; Matthew 7:1-5)
The English sixteenth century martyrs, John Fisher and Thomas More, were noted public figures and brilliant scholars. The first was the theologian-bishop of Rochester, England, and the second, King Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor. Both achieved some measure of greatness in these roles, but they are remembered today for reaching beyond their natural abilities. They became saints when they sacrificed their lives along with the worldly rewards of their natural ability for the love of Christ their savior. Looking carefully, we may find similar divine activity in the story of Abraham which begins in today’s first reading.
The Lord tells Abraham that he will be the source of a great nation. God does not mean simply that Abraham’s descendants will be numerous. Rather He intends that they will be praised and emulated by all who seek true wisdom. The development will not come about naturally. No, God will instruct Abraham and his descendants with difficult lessons of self-control, care for one’s family, justice toward neighbors, and love for God. The end of the instruction will be the nation which gives birth to Jesus Christ, God’s own son.
We should aspire to a similar greatness. This does not mean that we want to be the envy of the world. Rather we want to develop the virtues exhibited in the gospels by Jesus. The task will move us beyond our natural abilities but certainly not beyond God’s. Taking instruction from Him, we will become truly caring people, His daughters and sons.