15 Oct, Saturday of Week 28
Alternative: Memorial of St Teresa of Avila
Rom 4:13ff. Hoping against hope, Abraham became the father of many nations, believing in the life-giving power of God.
Lk 12:8ff. Do not worry how to defend yourselves. The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment all that should be said.
Forefather in Faith
Abraham’s hoping against hope, must have seemed odd, even to Sarah his wife. Who would ever think that this elderly couple would not only be the parents of “a great nation” but that all the communities of the earth would be blessed through them (Gen 12:2-3). A person without Abraham’s faith would call this man’s hope simply “ridiculous.”
Whenever a situation turns out to be humanly hopeless, we should recall Abraham and Sarah. Such situations calling for radical decision come often enough in individual lives, and within church history too. Death is one such moment for everyone. Radical conversion is another. A decision for marriage, priesthood, religious life or particular secular career is still another.
When Israel seemed lost before the Philistine onslaught, God raised up David, the youngest son of Jesse, from a tribe up till then unimportant in Israel. Many of the traditions in Genesis about the creation of the world, the formation of the human race, the call and journey of Abraham from a distant land, were gathered and developed into a continuous narrative – the Yahwist (J) tradition – at the royal court of David and Solomon.
Abraham appears again, four or five centuries later during the Babylonian exile. The fate of Judah seemed hopeless. Very few nations that were deported like Israel survived historically. A great prophet appeared at this time, unknown by name and therefore called Second or Deutero-Isaiah because his poetry was appended to the Isaiah scroll as chapters 40-55. His advice to all who seek the Lord is, “Look to the rock from which you were hewn, to the pit from which you were quarried; Look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah who gave you birth. When he was but one, I called him, I blessed him and made him many. Yes, the Lord shall comfort Zion and have pity on her ruins.” Second Isaiah’s words may also have sounded ridiculous, yet because he too “hoped against hope” and placed unwavering faith in the Lord, death gave place to life and the wasteland was transformed like the garden of the Lord.
Paul calls us to “look to Abraham… and to Sarah,” so that the Lord may have pity on all our ruins and turn our desert existence into a paradise like Eden. Abraham himself never witnessed how marvellous this promised fertility would be. He saw only his son Isaac. In a way, Abraham’s faith had to reach beyond death to the resurrection of the dead. For this reason Jesus appeals to the example of Abraham for belief in the resurrection.
Those with intimate union with Jesus realize how disastrous is a word spoken against the Holy Spirit, who is there to inspire us with courage and vision at any moment of crisis. “The Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment all that should be said.”
First Reading: Romans 4:13, 16-18
For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith.
For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”) – in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.”
Gospel: Luke 12:8-12
“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before he angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.”