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Podcast en Español
St. Paul hit upon a brilliant idea: Why not present them with an undeniably powerful role model, a historical figure whom every Jew knew as an embodiment of righteousness, of a faith so real and so direct that it called forth from this person a real practice, a man intent upon obeying God and loving God in all things, and at all times: the great patriarch Abraham.
But what exactly about Abraham’s actions was St. Paul offering for these Jewish Christians to emulate?
Abraham, St. Paul, proposed, believed God before God had even fulfilled all of the promises that He made to Abraham; thus, Ab-raham had acted upon trust; Abraham’s faith in God had pro-pelled him to act. God saw this, St. Paul asserts, and pronounced Abraham a righteous man: a man of God in love with God.
Abraham, asserts St. Paul, had acted on his belief, thus he had put his faith into action by giving up everything in his past—his family, his clan, his personal history, as it were—so as to live in union with the Sacred Presence that was calling out to him. You, too, have been called, he says, and though our present struggles are hard on you, painful, and sad, do not give up, stay the course, for you, like Abraham, have a deep and lasting faith, a true righteousness: it is centered upon, and it comes from, our Lord Jesus Christ—surrender to Him and love Him, just as Abraham surrendered to, and loved, God, and was found worthy of Him.
But what does this have to do with us modern Christian Catho-lics? After all, we are not undergoing severe persecution; we are not feeling tempted to give up our faith.
We Christian Catholics—all Christians, in fact—are direct spirit-ual descendants of Abraham. Just as he consecrated himself to God, so we have all been consecrated into the love and service of the One-True-God, and all aspects, all areas, of our lives are im-bued with the Holy Presence of God, with His Love in our Lord Jesus Christ: a covenant-love that, as the prophet Isaiah tells us in his book, Chapter 55:10, is like the rain and the snow that fall to the ground to make it fertile, productive, and this love, which is now ours in Christ, never returns to God without first fulfill-ing what it was sent to do: to make us His—and only His.
Just like Abraham, we Christians share in a chosen-ness, a holi-ness, a righteousness founded upon none other than God Him-self, His Righteousness, His Holiness, which always comes to us in faith—a faith born of love, a faith acted upon in trust.
In today’s Gospel Jesus gently, lovingly, tells those around him who are hungry and thirsty for his teaching, for God’s Wisdom—‘Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.’
The Father, identified here by Jesus as eager, pleased, even, to give away His Kingdom to the hungry, the thirsty, the margin-alized and the persecuted, is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who is so eager to redeem the world that he has called to himself a holy people, first by calling Abraham into covenant with Him, and now—this by sheer grace—by calling us to be His always and everywhere in, through, and with, our Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself could not live without loving God, and who could not love God without living for God, serving God, and obey-ing God.
This is why Jesus also tells his ‘little flock’: ‘Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach or moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will be your heart.’
Our Lord Jesus knew in his heart, in his soul, just what—rather, just Who—is this really inexhaustible treasure: It is God, our Creator, our Redeemer, in whose Love we all now dwell, in whose mercy we all share. Life, for us, is unimaginable without loving our Lord Jesus; and our faith is not our faith without God as its center, an inexhaustible Center, at that, whose sole joy is to Love us and to receive Love from us—so that we too may live and have joy.
God, the God of the living, is always inexhaustible: There is nev-er a time when anyone is beyond the reach of God, never a time or place or thing that can prevent us drinking in the love of Our Lord God, the Inexhaustible, the Ever-Living God.
You are in Christ, with Christ, and for Christ: so you can trust, you can open your heart to the Sacred Presence, the Holy Dwel-ling, to the Father of all believers who like Abraham, like all the saints and all the prophets, and like Our Lord Christ, acted on that trust and were found worthy: then you will be imbued with the very Holiness of God and you will live.