In the second reading,
from Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans,
we hear about Abraham.
What does Abraham mean to us?
It helps to remember the story of Genesis.
God created a garden for humanity,
but our first parents walked out.
From that point on, they and their children
keep moving further and further away from God,
further and further away from life.
That’s why it’s significant
that Abram and Sarai can’t have a child—
it’s the first time it happens in the Bible.
So when God calls Abram,
he is calling humanity back to life.
Abraham stands for us. He is our “father in faith.”
His “yes” to God is a model for us.
We might note three things God promised Abraham:
He would lead him to a new life;
he would give him a son,
and he would make him a father of many nations.
But Paul talks about Abraham to move to a bigger point:
the promise made to Abraham
is the promise kept in Christ!
Jesus is the true Son of Promise,
born many generations after Abraham;
all who believe in Christ are the “many nations”
who are Abraham’s children;
and it Christ—and Christ alone—
who re-opens Paradise for the human race.
Notice, the invitation God gave to Abraham—follow me—
happens in a far more wonderful way in the Gospel:
God comes in human flesh to Matthew and says,
There’s one more thing Paul wants to teach us here—
how Jesus opened Paradise again
for all of us who’d lost our way.
He did it with the Cross.
Jesus gave himself over to death,
taking our punishment for us.
He rose from the dead,
lifting our human nature from being fragile and mortal,
to being eternal, just like his own risen body.
How can we gain this salvation?
Jesus says it to us, too: “Follow me.”
What Paul describes, actually happens for us
at each and every Mass.
The death and resurrection of Christ
is made present for us on the altar, every time.
Christ offers his sacrifice here—
that’s why the Cross is there for you to see,
why it’s here, for the priest to see.
Christ opens Paradise—
that’s why we decorate our churches
to remind us of heaven,
with the saints and angels all around us.
That’s why the Mass is meant to be
something that transcends ordinary life,
and lifts us up to heaven.
Christ shares supernatural, eternal life with us:
what is poured out on the cross, and on the altar,
is given in the Eucharist.
Who does Christ call?
Everyone who will confess, “I am a sinner.”
This is why this parish is here,
to call everyone to faith in Christ
and to make them welcome.
That empty seat near you?
It’s meant to be filled by whoever you bring along.
As we come to the awesome moment,
when through the Sacrifice on the Altar,
when what Abraham longed for, happens for us—
and then, Christ gives his Body and Blood
in the Eucharist—
this is “the saving power of God”!
Abraham and Sarah, Mary and Matthew and Paul
are praying for us, around this altar,
that we will recognize the saving power of God,
given here, so freely!
Oh, may we join fervently in prayer with them—
that, in receiving this Saving Power,
we may be filled with the same urgency Matthew felt, Abraham felt—
to go, to tell, to share, to invite.
There are so many people who strive to know the Lord—
they are seeking him, hungering to be forgiven.
Who will go, who will tell them?