…I am making you the
father of a host of nations.
I will render you exceedingly fertile;
I will make nations of you;
In today’s gospel Jesus’
critics complain, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?”
Even a schoolchild should be able to explain to them that to attend the liturgy
– be it Jewish worship or Catholic Mass – is to stand side-by-side with every
creature who ever has, now does and ever will worship God. We are consecrated companions -- saints among the saints
– and more than casually acquainted with one another.
We heard the Lord this morning promise Abraham, “I will render you exceedingly fertile.” I hear an echo of God’s command to Adam and Eve, “Be fertile and multiply and fill the earth.” Sarah and Abraham’s children are everywhere; they fill the earth.
The tapestries in the
Los Angeles Cathedral portray a host of recognizable saints from ancient times
to the present with their hands folded in prayer. This cloud of witnesses appears rapt in attendance of the Mass, relaxed
and happy. There are no strangers among them. Because the models for these
images were citizens of multi-racial, polyglot Los Angeles, they look like any American’s
neighbors. It is not hard to imagine oneself among those saints and, indeed, the tapestries on either wall of the cathedral nave convey that hospitable assurance. You belong here, and among us!
If we know God we cannot
help but invite others – most especially our children – to share our joy. This happiness
is contagious; it is fertile and fecund, fructiferous and fruitful, prolific,
proliferant and pregnant. It just gets carried away!
Jesus bluntly tells his
opponents, “You do not know him, but I
know him.” Their love of God, whatever may be said for it, is not
contagious; their knowledge of God is sterile. They “forgot as
up they grew” and their “children [too] are apt to forget to remember” as up they
During this season of
Lent we hear the word of God to Abraham again:
On your part, you and
your descendants after you
must keep my covenant throughout the ages.
We pray that God will
renew in us his willing, grateful, confident, gracious, joyful spirit that has
no need to hoard goods or withhold generosity, knowing as we do that The Lord remembers his covenant forever.”