Saturday, June 27, 2009

Is There Anything Impossible For The LORD?

While Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent, enjoying the shade from the great trees of Mamre in the heat of the day, the LORD appeared to him. Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. He hurried to meet them, bowed, and invited them to stay a while. He ordered water brought so they could wash the dust from their feet, and rest beneath the trees.

Then Abraham turned to Sarah: “Quick, get three measures of fine flour, knead it, and bake some bread.” He ran to the herd, chose a tender calf and gave it to a servant, who prepared it. Then he brought some curds with milk, and the calf that had been prepared, and set the meal before them. While they were eating, he stood with them, under a tree.

“Where is your wife, Sarah?” they asked. “There, in the tent”, he replied.

Then the LORD said, “I will return about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent. Abraham and Sarah were old, and she was well past the age of childbearing. She thought, “After I am withered, and my husband is old, am I now to enjoy the pleasures of the flesh?” And she laughed at herself.

Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Will I really bear a child, old as I am?’ Is there anything impossible for the LORD? I shall return to you at the appointed time next year, and by then, Sarah will have a son. Sarah was taken aback, so she lied, and said, “I did not laugh.” But he said, “Oh, yes you did!"
Genesis 18:1-15

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord, my servant lies at home, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will go and heal him.”

But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Just say the word, and my servant will be healed. I am a man subject to authority, and I have soldiers subject to my command. When I say to this one, ‘Go’, he goes; and to that one ‘Come’, he comes. And I say to my servant, ‘Do this’, and he does it.”

Hearing this, Jesus was astounded and said to those following him, “I tell you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places together with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the Kingdom will be driven out into the darkness, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Then he said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done as you believed.” And at that very hour, the servant was healed.

Then Jesus came into Peter’s house, and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she rose and began to wait on him.

When evening came, many who were possessed by demons were brought to him, and he drove out the evil spirits with a word, and healed all the sick, in order to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took away our infirmities, and bore our diseases.”
Matthew 8:5-17
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Both of today’s readings tell us about dramatic miracles performed through the intercession of good people. In the case of Abraham and Sarah, they regain their fertility long past the time when it would be biological feasible for them to have a child. In this reading, we know that the LORD God is present, since the text sometimes reads, “The LORD said …” But it is not clear whether Abraham’s guests are the LORD accompanied by two angels, or two men, or even, whether this is a manifestation of all three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For instance, the announcement that Sarah will have a son within the year is made by one of the men; but when she scoffs at the notion, it is the LORD who speaks directly to Abraham.

The relationship between God and human beings is quite a bit clearer in the second reading, where Jesus – who is, of course, fully human and fully divine – is the principal actor. Here too, though, a faith-filled human, the centurion, is his agent in the cure of the servant. We need to be reminded that these stories are not quaint remembrances of times past when people were superstitious and gullible. You and I have the power to intercede with God on behalf of other people in ways which we sometimes doe even understand. There have been times when I have read one of the reflections by other authors on the scriptures of the day, and a bit of light is shed on an aspect of my own relationship with God that made my understanding a bit less murky. In this “post-modern” era, we don’t refer to such things as “miracles” any longer, but we ought to. They are proof that God loves us, and that we can be God’s agents each and every day.

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