Fr. John Eudes Bamberger,OCSO
11th Wednesday of Ordinary Time
Genesis 15:1-2,17-18; Matthew 7:15-20
The first reading we heard at this mass today provides a revealing insight into the Jewish mind of early times. This text from the BOOK OF GENESIS tells of a significant happening in the life of Abraham, for it describes in vivid language God’s promise of a large number of future progeny. The Lord, in order to give firm assurance to Abraham makes a covenant with this man of faith that ”In your descendants I give you this land from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates.” Reading earlier in the same chapter we learn that God promised in the course of this revelation to Abraham that he was to father a child through whom this promise begins to be fulfilled. As unlikely as this seemed due to the elderly age of both Sarah and Abraham, yet in an act of pure faith, Abraham believed in God’s promise.
Centuries later, when Jesus was instructing his followers on the necessity of trusting faith he sought to impart confidence to his followers by illustrating his teaching with striking language. With firm faith one could uproot a tree and cast it into the sea. By trusting belief in God we will be given the strength we need in our weakness to stand unshaken by the threat even of death, he assures his hearers. In our own times we learn of various followers of our Lord who have recently died professing their faith in France, in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. Truly to believe in our Lord as Redeemer is to accept trustingly whatever suffering and death surely awaits each human person. I have still a lively memory of a dead four year old boy brought in the arms of his mother to the emergency room of the hospital. who was killed shortly before in a car accident. Nothing could revive him; it was the distressed mother who needed care.
Our Lord realized how difficult it is for people to confront death and sought to prepare his apostles for it. Today’s Gospel text is an instance, though he broaches the subject indirectly by warning against false prophets. By accepting a way of life thes people teach, a life that is adapted excessively to this world a person produces bad fruit, and like a useless tree will be cut down and burnt in fire. If, later in the Gospel we are told how readily even Peter, the head of the apostles, gave way when subjected to fear and stress, it is to warn us all to remain fervent and ready day by day for our inevitable encounter with GOD our loving Creator and our Final Judge.