Scripture: 1st Reading: Gen.15,1-12;17-18; Resp. Psalm: Ps105,1-4,6-9; Gosp. Accl.: Jn15,4-5; Gospel: Mt7,15-20
The life of Abram proceeded like a well prepared script. He enjoyed peace, joy, great wealth, victory over his foes. In all aspects of life and from all indices that could be used to measure human success, Abram was a hugely successful and contented man.
All things worked together for the good of this great man of faith with a great and noble soul. But there was one important thing that made Abraham's joy incomplete: Abram and Sarah had no child from their union as husband and wife. Abraham had other children from his slaves but knew that the promise God made to him would be fulfilled through a child of his marriage with Sarah his wife.
With his and Sarah's advanced years, Abraham asked the Lord how His promise of giving the land as a possession to his descendants could ever materialize. God assured him again that indeed his descendants shall be as countless as the stars of heaven. Yahweh confirmed this through a sacrifice that turned out to be a confirmatory sign to the promises that Yahweh made to him.
On that day, God also sealed His promises with a covenant. The word of quotes God as saying: "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river of Euphrates." Yahweh reconfirmed that He would abide by His initial promise when He told Abram to leave his country and go to the land that He would show him and that He would make him a great nation.
Abraham believed even in these moments when disbelief was a more convenient option. He trusted in this period of his life when he had "grounds" for distrust. He clung to his God despite the fact that the child that would bring about the perfection of the promise was not yet born. He trusted. He believed. He obeyed!
Abraham's life exemplified what the Son of God would later come to teach during His earthly life. Our Lord in today's gospel taught His disciples to beware of false prophets. He warned them that bad trees and good trees would be known by their fruits. He told them that sound trees bear good fruits and bad trees bad fruits. Abraham's life bore good fruits because he was a good tree.
The life of St. Irenaeus was also a fruitful one. After his conversion, Irenaeus so much attached himself to the Lord that he became a priest. He then dedicated his entire life to the work of evangelization, to preaching and bringing souls to Christ. He defended the truths of the faith with his entire energy and strength. As a result, he was martyred for his faith in Christ about the year 200.
Irenaeus, like Abraham, believed totally in God. Both trusted in the God whom they encountered. Both men clung to God in spite of the difficulties of their lives. We are inspired by them to continue to live our lives for God and His Christ. We are encouraged by them to see difficulties as stepping stones to higher greatness. We are emboldened by their tenacity to keep holding on even when disbelief may appear to be a "better" and "wiser" choice.
Let us pray: "O God, who called the Bishop Saint Irenaeus to confirm true doctrine and the peace of the Church, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, being renewed in faith and charity, we may always be intent on fostering unity and concord." Amen
May the Living Word of God find a true dwelling place within our hearts and souls today and always.