Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr
(Genesis 15:1-12.17-18; Matthew 7:15-20)
A couple is married over twenty-five years. They never have had children of their own. Although they are Godparents to many and serve the church in many ways, they feel a great loss in their lives. Once they considered the possibility of producing a child in vitro, but did not pursue it because that procedure violates the sanctity of human life. The couple’s childlessness and, even more, their trust in God resemble the circumstances of Abram in today’s first reading.
Abram not only deeply desires to have a child with his wife Sarah, but also God has promised the couple heirs as numerous as the grains of dust on the earth. Now they are advanced in years and almost have given up hope. Abram pleads with God, perhaps for a last time, only to hear God’s promise reasserted in a more glorious way: “Look up at the sky and count the stars….Just so…shall you descendants be.’” Abram does not abandon God, who has blessed him in different ways, to worship another. Rather he continues to do all that God asks of him.
God’s ways are inscrutable. Couples who would seem to be wonderful parents suffer by not having children while many children suffer in broken homes. Yet God has cared enough for those who suffer, which include every one of us, by coming to share our suffering. He has actually moved us beyond it with the promise of eternal life as well as many spiritual blessings.