Today we hear of the call of Abram (who became Abraham) and whose obedience to God stands at the beginning of Israel’s faith and its formation as the people of God. Through this one man’s obedience God was to not only form a great nation, but also prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ. For, as Saint Bede the Venerable reminds us, in addition to the nation that was born from Abraham according to the flesh, there is also ‘the generation of the nation saved in Christ from all the families of the earth.’
To all these together the Apostle Paul says, ‘If you are of Christ, you are then the seed of Abraham.’ Therefore when He says, ‘In you will be blessed the families of the earth,’ it is as if he were saying, ‘And in your seed will be blessed the families of the earth.’ Mary, from whom would be born the Christ, was present already when these things were said to him. This is what the apostle meant when he spoke of them as ‘in the loins of Abraham.’ [Hebrews 7:10] How marvelous was the dispensation of the divine severity and goodness. … This one man, who abandoned that region, going forth from it willingly by order of the Lord, heard addressed to himself the promise that in one common blessing there would be reunited in him all the peoples divided into various regions and languages.
However, the Fathers also teach us that this call of Abraham refers not only to what has occurred historically in Israel and in Jesus Christ, but it also prefigures wat occurs to us in baptism and in our living of the Christian life. We are also called to leave behind what is familiar and trust ourselves to a new life in God, a choice that we need to make time and time again during the course of daily life. Saint Caesarius of Arles writes,
Does not one seem to you happily to leave his land, that is, himself, if from being proud he becomes humble; from irascible, patient; from dissolute, chaste; from avaricious, generous; from envious kind; from cruel, gentle? Truly, brothers, one who is changed thus out of love for God happily leaves his own land.
A Reading from the Book of Genesis 12:1-7:
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.”
So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the LORD appeared to Abram, and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.