LORD appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre,
as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot.
Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby.
When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them;
and bowing to the ground, he said:
"Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant.
Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet,
and then rest yourselves under the tree.
Now that you have come this close to your servant,
let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves;
and afterward you may go on your way."
Pondering the Word…
Hospitality is the theme for today. In Colossians, we hear Paul speak about his
willingness to sacrifice and suffer to bring the Good News to the Gentiles. We
all know the gospel story of Martha’s dilemma, wanting to make sure everything
is just right for Jesus, but missing out on the chance to hear his wisdom. And
in the Old Testament, we see Abraham scurrying around welcoming the strangers
who arrive on his property in the heat of the day. For me, I cannot read this
without thinking of the images from the southern border of the United States and
refugee camps around the world. Not such a hospitable picture, I’m afraid.
Now before you dismiss this as political commentary, hear me out. No, the
situations are not analogous. Abraham is greeting three men as opposed to tens
of thousands, and he makes it clear that he does not intend for them to stay.
What the US and many other countries are facing is infinitely more complex, but
it is a crisis we need to recognize as being brought about by uninhabitable
climate conditions and political situations for which we all, as individuals and
as nations, bear some responsibility.
It’s interesting: Western countries are so generous in the face of natural
disasters, often the first on the scene with provisions and personnel when
tragedy strikes a poor area of the world. We are always willing to open our
wallets. But when those impacted by ongoing crises show up on our property, it
tends to be a different story. Will we be like Abraham and open our homes to the
weary, sunbaked travelers? What would Jesus have us do in the face of this
enormous humanitarian crisis?
Living the Word….
So what does Jesus do when confronted with large crowds of sick, hungry “sheep
without a shepherd?” He feeds them. He heals them. He comforts them. He teaches
them. And yes, after all that, most of them go home, but they return home
renewed, invigorated and ready to feed and heal and comfort and teach those they
left behind. (This is in fact what the Dalai Lama means when he talks about
refugees needing to be able to return home.) I doubt any of us knows all the
answers. I surely don’t. I doubt any of us knows all the facts, But I don’t
doubt that Jesus would ask us, like he asks Martha, to set aside our squabbles
and accusations that “the other” is not doing enough. He’d ask us to listen to
his words and be willing to sacrifice and suffer, to open our homes, and like
him, to feed, heal, comfort, and teach these, his “least ones.”
is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new
things have come.”
And new creation continues in Christ. Paul is writing to the nascent Christian
community he established in Corinth a few years earlier. It’s comprised of some
Jews, but mostly Gentiles, and he is referring, as he often does, to the Law as
“the old things,” and to Christ as bringing the “new things.” But that newness
didn’t stop in 55 AD! Behold, Christ continues to make all things new! Are
there laws, rituals, or habits from the past that need to be put aside in order
for Christ to be alive today, for us and for those we serve? Are you stuck in
some “old things” that no longer bear fruit? Ask the Spirit to breathe new life
into your faith.
Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore and beheld the great power
that the LORD, they feared the LORD and believed in him and in his servant
fear and belief lasted…oh, about another chapter until the unleavened bread they
brought with them ran out. We don’t have a clear sense of the passage of time in
the Book of Exodus, but you’ve got to imagine the stories of the great power of
the Lord were retold through the generations. How quickly those Israelites
forgot God’s saving hand! Oh, and how quickly I can forget the same thing. It’s
more like, “What have you done for me lately?” when I encounter the next
obstacle or crisis. I hope I don’t wait until I reach the Promised Land to put
my complete faith and trust in the Lord! If you are facing a need in your life,
stop and remember how the Lord has been there for you in the past. Have faith
God is here with you now.
The children of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You
had to lead us into this desert to make the whole community die of famine! ...On
seeing (the manna), they asked, “What is this? (Ex
16: 1-5, 9-15)
When you’re hungry and thirsty, keeping the faith is hard. Are you hungering for
something in your life? God’s grace, like the manna from heaven, may be like
nothing you’ve ever seen before. Be open. God will feed you if you ask…even if
The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus and did him homage, wishing
to ask him for something: “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your
right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom."
Well, Zebedee might be their father, but it seems like these two “sons of
thunder” inherited their mom’s chutzpah! She has a big request of Jesus and does
not seem the least bit intimidated to march right up to him and ask. I like this
woman! St. Ignatius of Loyola suggests we use a similar approach when we ask God
for the grace we desire from prayer. He uses a strong Spanish word: “demandar,”
to demand, to insist. It might sound pushy, but I think God likes it when we,
like the psalmist, say, “Lord, in your great love, answer me." (Ps 69)
And like the mom in this story, we might not receive the answer we want, but
instead come away with a better understanding of what Jesus’ Kingdom is to be:
“The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.”
"Hear the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who
hears the word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the Evil One comes
and steals away what was sown in his heart.” (Mt 13:18-23)
that caught my attention in this passage is “understanding.” Last week, we spoke
about having an informed conscience, allowing God’s word to penetrate our hearts
so we can know on an intimate level what God is saying to each one of us. I am
reminded how easy it is for me to stray when I am just hearing and mouthing the
words rather than really listening to what God is saying to and asking of me.
How well do you understand God’s word…not cognitively, not from a historical or
theological perspective, but in your heart? Allow yourself time and silence.
Then just listen.
“The workers said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed? Where have the weeds come
often I have been one of the workers questioning God when bad things happen! We
hear the bad must remain and grow alongside the good. This is hard to accept,
and if it directly impacts our lives, we may want to bury the bad or yank it out
from its roots. But by doing so, we risk damaging the roots of lessons we are to
learn. Trust in God’s protection and providence that, even in bad times, we will
grow strong and good.