Monday, June 26, 2017

Unconditional Surrender

If we ask where the story begins, we could go back to creation as the book of Genesis does, or we could go back to before time and space as John's gospel does. But today's first reading is the other important beginning, the beginning of the People of Israel, the beginning of the first covenant.

As chapter 12 of Genesis recounts the story it begins with a call — a call and a promise. Actually it begins with a command.

Go forth halak in Hebrew. The verb means simply to walk. In this case Abram is commanded to walk away from everything he knows. God promises great blessings if he can do this one simple thing.

I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.

But it is not simple. God does not tell him where they are going. He is told only that he is to leave him home and go to "the land I will show you."

We call Abraham "our father in faith" and today's reading tells us why. Because the response of Abram is not given in words it is given in action. In Hebrew it is the past tense of the same verb God used in the command. God commanded him to walk and the response is Abram walked. He just gets up and walks away — from the known to the unknown.

This unnegotiated, unconditional trust in God is the beginning of the covenant that God will make with the people of Israel. When God makes the new and eternal covenant it will be Mary who says the unconditional yes to God's will.

Abram and Mary are the two models of perfect faith.

In yesterday's gospel we were told to not be afraid. Today and every day we can lead fearless lives if we start each day trying to imitate the faith of Abram and Mary.