Friday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 23:1-4.19.24:1-8.62-67; Matthew 9:9-13)
Abraham’s purchasing land to bury Sarah may seem like a realistic detail. In reality it is a very important step in nation-building. People have to own land before they will identify themselves with it. They will revere as sacred the places where they bury their fathers and mothers. There they will tell the stories which add meaning to life and bind themselves to one another.
The wise Abraham realizes these facts as he insists on buying a broad piece of land rather than accepting as a gift a narrow swath to accomplish his immediate purpose. He will be buried on the same territory as will Isaac, Rebecca and Leah, and Jacob. It will truly become the “land of the patriarchs” worth working to grow a nation and dying to defend. It remains a great symbol for Jews who though scattered throughout the world feel a tie to Israel.
But nations are more than land with flags. They require virtue to create and sustain. Families must be supported and individuals must dedicate themselves to procuring more than their own needs. Jesus will give priority to the Kingdom of God in his preaching, but he never denies the importance of family and state to that end. Without either we are dehumanized, and the kingdom becomes a sterile symbol.