March 11, 2019
The story of the fall in the Garden of Eden is about humanity’s inability to trust in God, but it is also the story about how God never compels, but continues to invite humanity into a relationship that depends upon God’s graciousness. While the first man and woman could not trust in the creator and his ways, Abraham stands as one who responds to God’s invitation and is justifiably called the “Father of Faith.”
There are, indeed, many events in the life of Abraham that earn him this title. First, he is called by God to “go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1). There are countless reasons for Abraham to decline this request. To leave his land and his relatives is to leave behind not only familiarity, but also the security and safety that one’s clan would bring. Abraham is also seventy-five years old and it would not surprise us if Abraham told God that he was just too worn-out at this point in his life to begin such an adventure. But, he responds in freedom to God’s request and trusts that somehow God will bring about the promises that God makes: “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you: I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen 12:2). And thus, God makes a covenant with Abraham promising him that his offspring will be as numerous as the stars in the sky (Gen 15:5) and that his descendants will be given the land of Canaan (Gen 15:18-21). And in the midst of all these events we are told, “Abram put his faith in the Lord” (Gen 15:6).
Lent is, of course, a time for us to prepare to renew our faith in God. Over the course of time we learn to place our trust in what appears to us to be more of a “sure thing.” Through the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we commit to making God the center of our lives (prayer), to trust in God to provide what we need instead of all that we want (fasting), and to learn to be fulfilled through service and selflessness rather than being filled up with material things (almsgiving). We pray that Father Abraham, our Father of Faith, inspire us to trust that these Lenten practices will lead us, not down a path of diminishment, but one of fulfillment.