In the 12th Week of Ordinary Time in the current cycle of the Lectionary for daily Mass, we begin to read the story of God’s plan of salvation as it begins with Abram. (Because of yesterday’s solemnity, we missed the first chapter of the continuous reading. From now until August 23, we will read from what is known as the Deuteronomic Corpus which consists of the five books of the Torah and the history books that follow it. The Lectionary actually splits this part of the Hebrew Scriptures into two parts. Next year we will read the second part.
In today’s reading, Abram defers to Lot and allows him to choose the land in which he wishes to settle. Abram would have been within his rights to choose first and let his nephew take what was left. Abram had an entirely different approach, starting with a different priority. What he deemed important was the preservation of his relationship with Lot rather than the choice of the better land. On the other hand, Lot logically chooses the land that appears to be more fertile and hospitable.
Of these two approaches, it seems that the Lord was most pleased with Abram’s perspective, to whom he reaffirms his promise of land and innumerable descendants. When we look at Jesus’ words in the Gospel, they certainly shed more light on where Lot went wrong. Jesus talks about treasuring and treating with respect that which is holy. Certainly, our relationship with God is and should be our most valued treasure, and our relationship with our family and our neighbors should be a close second.
The Gospel also includes the Golden Rule with which we are all familiar. Abram acts according to this rule even though it would not have been part of his thinking during his lifetime.
Our choices at this moment in our lives might not involve wealth and real estate. They might involve time or require other sacrifices or commitments. The challenge is still the same: to make sure the priorities that guide them are the ones Jesus proclaimed and set before us, for they will lead us to life.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator