Sunday, March 20, 2011

Second Sunday of Lent - First Reading Reflections

Today's first reading presents a challenge, both to Abram and to us. God called Abram out of his comfort zone and ordering him to leave his homeland and his family and set off on a God-directed adventure to a new land Could Abram have said, “No, thank You, God”? Certainly! As a human being, he had free will, just like we do. He could have shaken his head, blamed this crazy idea about God speaking to him on his overactive imagination, and resettled into his daily routine. But he didn't. Instead, he decided to have faith in God, in God's message, and in God's plans for him.

God was certainly making Abram's trip worth his time and energy. He gave Abram three promises, which He would later confirm through three covenant oaths (in Genesis 15, 17, and 22). God promised Abram that 1. He would make of Abram a great nation; 2. He would make Abram's name great; and 3. all the communities (or families) on earth would find blessing in Abram. These are pretty spectacular promises. Abram was a basically a nobody, one resident of many in the city Ur of the Chaldeans. He was already 75 years old, and his wife, Sarai, was already beyond the age of childbearing. How in the world was God going to make a great nation, a great name, and a great blessing come from him? Abram must have wondered this as he set out on his great journey, but he went anyway. He took the risk. He chose to act on his faith and to believe God, as unlikely as all His promises seemed to his human understanding.

Abram persevered in his decision, and his risk paid off even though his path was far from easy. In the end, God fulfilled all of His promises in amazing ways. Abram did indeed become a great nation in his descendents, the Israelite people and the Christians; his name is still regarded as great to this day by three religions, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; and one of his descendents, Jesus Christ, brought the greatest blessing of all to all the communities of earth, namely, eternal life with God in Heaven.

As we reflect on this reading, we can ask ourselves a few questions and try to answer them honestly.

1. How is God calling us right now? Is He asking us to go outside our comfort zone and take a risk?
2. How are we responding to God's call? Do we believe in His promises? Do we trust Him? Do we have faith? Or do we say, “No, thank You, God”?
3. Have we chosen to take a risk for God in the past? How has it turned out? Have we persevered in our choice?
4. Do we appreciate how God fulfills all His promises?

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