Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 13:2.5-18; Matthew 7:6.12-14)
In a debate before the year 2000 presidential election George W. Bush famously said that he was “not into nation-building.” He meant that he would not involve the United States in foreign countries so much that it would be responsible for their development. Eventually, when the U.S. invaded Iraq, he had to eat those words. In any case God is “into nation-building” as both readings today testify.
Abram shows qualities that are characteristic of a wise leader. When troubles erupt between his kinsmen and those of Lot, he keeps his clan together. He is also willing to make a strategic sacrifice of better land for assured peace. Noting Abram’s capacity, God promises that he will be father of countless descendants. Jesus is laying the blueprint for the Church when he tells his disciples to "enter through the narrow gate.’” Great nations are not developed through self-indulgence. Rather if they are to reach an exalted status, their leaders must be honest and their peoples hardworking.
Perhaps we don’t want to think of ourselves as nation-builders. We would rather devote ourselves to providing for our families or to saving our souls. However, if our children and grandchildren are going to be virtuous, living in a society that respects human dignity and rejects dishonesty provides a significant head start on the road to excellence.