When I was in theology studies, our Old Testament professor told us that in the book of Genesis, there were two promises that God makes to Abram/Abraham over and over. They were land and descendants. We have one instance of those promises in the last section of today’s first reading. That may be nice, but is there a way that God makes those promises to us as well?
If we reflect on God’s promise of land, we begin to realize that there is more involved than just a piece of property. What is at stake here is a sense of home. We can have that sense even if we are on the move, and not just because certain motel chains tell us that we will have a home away from home if we stay with them. Jesus has called us to be part of his body, a part of his community. As long as we have that relationship, we can rest assured that we belong, we are at home, we have “land.”
In a similar way, descendants can be understood as a reality beyond having a lot of children and grandchildren. Disciples of Christ are called to be generative. They promote, nourish, protect, and enhance life in many different ways. Intentionally and unintentionally they touch other people’s lives, helping them experience the presence and action of Christ’s Spirit.
God invites Abram to “set forth and walk about in the land, through its length and breadth.” We are invited to take a similar walk, not rushing along and zooming past things, but taking our time to notice, appreciate, be grateful, and share.
How is God keeping the promises of land and descendants in my life?
—Fr. Joe Folzenlogen, S.J. is vice-superior of the Faber Jesuit Community in Cincinnati and director of Claver Jesuit Ministry.