June 26, 2019
The LORD said to Abram, “I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession.” “O Lord GOD,” he asked, “how am I to know that I shall possess it?” He answered him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Abram brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other; . . . When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces. It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates.” Gn_15:1-12,17-18
Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them.” Mt_7:15-20
There is a fine line between Faith, Discernment, Skepticism and Mistrust.
Faith says, “I believe you,” regardless of the inconceivability of what you claim. Faith is the epitome of Trust.
Discernment, then, is what we tend to do, and what Jesus says we should do, before we trust in anyone or anything. It is the careful evaluation of Credibility.
Take, for example, the weather forecasts. If the forecast says it’s supposed to rain at a particular time, do we automatically believe it? Well, our experience has shown us that at least 50% of the time, those predictions are wrong. And that leads to skepticism.
Skepticism is what happens when, time after time, we’re confronted with untruth. We’re skeptical of the news media because, what used to be an objective source of information, has become subjective, opinionated and even outright lies, given in order to propagate a particular bias or agenda. And all of that leads to total Mistrust, which is just the opposite of Faith.
So when we look at the story of Abram and God, we see how God was constantly making all kinds of offers to Abram. He said, Abram would have lots of land, and children, and blessings. And yet, Abram, in waiting and waiting for those offers to come true, never witnessed the realization of any of them, or at least, the time it took for their realization was beyond what Abram was willing to wait.
So in today’s First Reading, we see Abram cautiously and skeptically discerning whether or not to actually believe God. “How am I going to actually know?” he asked the LORD.
So God did something that was very common in those days. Whereas, today, we would write up a legally binding contract, in the time of Abram, the contracts were literally written in blood. By walking, or passing through the carcasses of dead animals, the two parties vowed that if either one of them ever broke that covenant (contract, promise), they would be subject to the same fate as those dead animals. It was quite an intense and graphic image.
And it was a common practice, for example, in marriage vows, where both fathers walked the ‘blood-path,’ vowing fidelity for their children, even at the cost of their own lives, if that vow was ever broken.
In the case of Abram, God promised land to Abram, while Abram promised his Faith, his total Trust in, and Fidelity to – God. And God ALWAYS came through!
Jesus tells us that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. When we place our Faith, our trust, in God, God will always respond according to His promise.
And two things are promised. First, that we will all mortally die. And Second, IF we keep our Faith in God, and believe in Jesus, we will experience Eternal Salvation, that is, a continuation of Life, after mortal death, in God’s Kingdom, forever.
That promise of God was validated and confirmed through the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to live with us, at Pentecost. If we faithfully rely upon the Holy Spirit in our lives, NOW, before death, we can actually experience a foretaste of Heaven – right here and now, on earth. And the physical sign of that foretaste of heaven is right here in our blessed Sacrament of Holy Eucharist – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, here in our own mortal bodies.
When we place our Trust in Jesus and when we carefully Discern everything else, as He instructed us, then we will Live in the joy of the Holy Spirit. For, as Jesus tells us, by their fruits we will truly know our God: who is Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Who IS all Life and all Love!
Blessed be the Lord our God, forever!
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