Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 16:1-12.15-16; Matthew 7:21-19)
Often enough great people prove themselves foolish in simple aspects of character. Thomas Jefferson was certainly an accomplished statesman. His erudition enabled him to write the noble words of the Declaration of Independence. His affability allowed him to negotiate effectively as America’s ambassador to France. Yet he smudged his record by evidently keeping a slave, Sally Hemings, as his mistress. The story told of Abram in today’s first reading contains a similar breach of character.
Abram listens to the plan of his calculating wife Sarai. Whether he has relations with her servant Hagar out of lust or out desperation, he is acting foolishly. He needs to trust God’s plan in creation that marriage is a faithful covenant. Instead he attempts to “build a house on sand” as Jesus warns against in the gospel. The result could have been predicted. No one is satisfied. Sarai comes to feel slighted. Hagar is eventually abandoned. And the offspring Ismael will be raised without his father.
Jesus maps the way to greatness in the Sermon on the Mount. We hear its last instalment in today’s gospel reading. The Sermon exhorts self-control but, even more, self-deliverance to God’s Providence. God will provide us what is necessary for a worthy life. Even more importantly, He will bring us to our home in Paradise.