God is always faithful to His Covenant: He kept faith with Abraham and He is faithful to the salvation promised in His Son.
That was the message of Pope Francis during the morning Mass on Thursday at the Casa Santa Marta. The Pope called on those present to pause during the day to reflect on their own life story, in order to discover the beauty of the love of God, even in the midst of difficulties, which afflict everyone in this life.
Pope Francis’ homily revolved around the figure of Abraham, who is at the centre of the day’s liturgy. The first Reading narrates the story of the Covenant God made with Abraham; while in the Gospel, both Jesus and the Pharisees refer to “Father” Abraham, because he is the father of “this people that today is the Church.” Abraham trusted and obeyed when he was called to go to a new land that he would receive as an inheritance.
Abraham, a man of faith, knew by experience that God had not deceived him
A man of faith and of hope, Abraham believed when he was told that he would have a child although he was 100 years old, and his wife was sterile – “he believed against every hope.” “If anyone wanted to give a description of the life of Abraham, he could say, ‘This guy is a dreamer,’” the Pope said. He explained that Abraham had something of the dreamer in him, but it was “that dream of hope”; he wasn’t crazy:
“Put to the test, after having had a child, a boy, a young child, he was asked to offer him in sacrifice: he obeyed, and went forward against all hope. And this is our father Abraham, who goes forward, forward, forward; and when Jesus says Abraham saw his day, saw Jesus, he was full of joy. He saw Him in promise, he saw that joy of seeing the fullness of the promise of the covenant, the joy of seeing that God had not deceived him, that God – as we prayed in the responsorial psalm – is always faithful to His covenant.”
The psalm also invites us to call to mind the wonders God performs. For us, the descendants of Abraham, it’s like thinking of our father who has passed away, and yet we remember the good things about him and we think: “He was a great father!”
Abraham obeys and believes against all hope
The Covenant, on Abraham’s part, consists in having always obeyed, the Pope said. On God’s part, He has promised to make Abraham “the father of a multitude of nations.” “No longer shall you be called Abram, but Abraham,” the Lord says. And Abraham believed. Then, in another dialogue, God tells him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the heavens and as the sand on the seashore. And today we are able to say, “I am one of those stars. I am a grain of sand.”
Looking to history: we are a people
Between Abraham and us, there is another Story, the Pope said, the story of the heavenly Father and of Jesus. This is why Jesus told the Pharisees that Abraham exulted in the hope of seeing “my day” – “he saw it, and was glad.” This is the great message; and the Church today invites us to pause and to look to “our roots,” “our father,” who “has made us a people, a heaven full of stars, a beach full of grains of sand”:
“Looking to history: I am not alone, I am a people. We go together. The Church is a people. But a people dreamed of by God, a people He has given a father on Earth who obeyed; and we have a Brother who has given His life for us, to make us a people. And so we are able to look upon the Father, to give thanks; to look upon Jesus, to give thanks; to look upon Abraham and ourselves, who are part of the journey.”
God is faithful: we should pause in order to discover, even amid the difficulties of this life, the beauty of the love of God
The Holy Father then invited us to make today “a day of memory,” pointing out that “in this great Story, in the framework of God and Jesus, there is the little story of each one of us”:
“I invite you today to take five minutes, ten minutes, to sit down – without the radio, without the television – to sit down and reflect on your own story: the blessings and the troubles, everything. The graces and the sins, everything. And to see there the faithfulness of that God who remained faithful to His Covenant, remained faithful to the promise He made to Abraham, remained faithful to the salvation He promised in His Son, Jesus. I’m certain that in the midst of all of the perhaps ugly things – because we all have them, so many ugly things in this life – if we do this today, we will discover the beauty of the love of God, the beauty of His mercy, the beauty of hope. And I am sure that we will all be full of joy.”