Today’s chapters of Genesis remain with Abraham and his family. In chapter 16 we see Sarah doubting that she could possibly bear children at her age and convinces Abraham to father a child with Hagar, her Egyptian slave. When this idea comes to fruition, and Hagar becomes pregnant, Sarah decides her idea was a terrible one and Abraham shouldn’t have listened to it. Sarah’s relationship with Hagar deteriorates to the point that she runs away and is visited by an angel in the wilderness, who convinces her to return to Abraham and Sarah.
Chapter 17 follows after a thirteen year jump forward with God making another covenant with Abraham, and this one is sealed with the sign of circumcision. This cutting of the flesh was the way a newborn Israelite entered into the the covenant with God, and has been replaced by baptism in the new covenant.
Chapter 18 has a very interesting visitor show up at Abraham’s tent. Three men stand before Abraham, unannounced and unaccompanied by any kind of entourage. The way Abraham reacts to them as if they are visiting royalty tells us that she knew their identity and the passage in verse one isn’t just the writer of Genesis identifying God via hindsight. Early church fathers immediately pointed to this passage when teaching the dogma of the Holy Trinity.
After a shared meal they inform Sarah that by next year she would have a son. When she laughs at this, being almost 100 years old, she is told that nothing is impossible for God, in a similar way that the archangel Gabriel says how a virgin will bear a child about 2000 years later and a few miles north of this spot.
Wrapping up the Genesis reading today is the end of 18 where Abraham becomes an advocate and intercessor for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah when the Lord says He will destroy the cities for their grave sins. Abraham wasn’t interceding for the cities because they deserved mercy, but for his nephew who had moved to the cities decades earlier. He knew that their destruction would certainly mean death for Lot and his family. An interesting note in this bargaining and negotiations is that they settle on the number 10 being the amount of righteous people in the cities who would stave off their destruction. And as we all know the cities were destroyed, so that means that in two large cities (by their standards for that time and place) there weren’t 10 righteous people.
In todays psalm King David marvels at how small and seemingly insignificant humans are on this earth, but because we were made in the image and likeness of God we’ve been given dominion over the earth.
In the 8th chapter of Mathew we see five separate instances of Jesus healing people. The way the Gospel of Mathew is structured these healings and miracles are necessarily happening chronologically, but are grouped together between discourses He delivers in chapters 7 and 10.
The first healing is significant in that Jesus heals the leper with a touch. This action would normal cause the ceremonially clean person to become unclean, but Jesus is incapable of being unclean and His divinity heals the man’s infirmity. Saint Augustine saw a symbolic connection between the healing of this leper and mortal sin in our lives,
The next portion of the chapter concerning the centurion contains a quote that should be familiar to all Catholics. How great was the faith of the centurion that we now pray his words every time we go to receive the Eucharist.
Another of these stories we should focus on is the calming of the seas. Just like the prophet Jonah, Jesus finds himself on a boat being tossed by the seas while he was trying to sleep. But unlike Jonah, Jesus has the power and authority to command the seas to be still.