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A Firm Foundation

Homily for Thursday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time

The incident in today’s reading from the Book of Genesis might cause us to ask whether Sarai’s decision to give her maid to Abram as a concubine was part of God’s original plan of salvation. The answer to that lies in God’s decision to bless Hagar after Sarai takes her jealousy out on her. God had promised that Abram and Sarai would bear a child; but in her impatience, Sarai had acted foolishly.

The tension exists between the progeny of Ishmael and the progeny of Isaac to this very day. Jews and Arabs are constantly at each other’s throats. However, it would be wrong to blame God for this development. Throughout the ages, men and women have attempted to build up their own kingdom but have failed because they have ignored the fact that God must be the foundation of all human endeavor.

I often think of St. Peter’s Church in the Loop of Chicago when I hear Jesus talking about building on a foundation of rock. When the city condemned the old St. Peter’s and called for its demolition, the friars bought a piece of property in the Loop and started to build a new church which still stands today. Anyone who knows about the honeycomb of tunnels and passageways underneath the downtown area of Chicago realizes that the foundations of those large buildings must be extremely sturdy. Construction of St. Peter’s could not begin until the workers sunk more than fifty concrete pilings deep into the ground to support the church and the three floors of living area that are above it. Imagine how much more needs to be done for a building such as the Willis Tower. Construction began on that building when I was in high school. It wasn’t finished until I was in theology more than ten years later.

God must be the foundation of all human endeavor. Only when we let go of control and let God take over can we hope to build a life that will withstand the storms of life that each of us must endure.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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