MSGR. THOMAS R. DUFFY
On Feb. 24, the second Sunday of Lent, the first reading in Masses celebrated in Catholic churches throughout the world was taken from the book of Genesis (12:1-4). We read: “The Lord said to Abram: ‘Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.”
I was so impressed with this reading that I encouraged all at Mass to join me in this prayer: “That the children of Abraham, Jews, Christians and Muslims be united in love for one another so that we can be a blessing to all the nations of the world.”
Who is this man Abram mentioned in the Book of Genesis? If we read on in the book, we are told God changed his name to Abraham. Any Jew would tell us that he is their father. Like Abraham, they believe that there is only one God who is the creator of all things and that they as the children of God have been chosen to be a blessing to all the communities of people on the earth. It was not that God loved them more than others but through them, the one God would be a blessing to all whom he created in his image and likeness.
Who is this Abraham? As a Christian, I believe he is my father in faith. At that Mass, on the second Sunday of Lent, I prayed to God the father from an ancient eucharistic prayer these words: “Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gifts of your servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith, and the bread and wine offered by your priest Melchisedech.”
Yes, as a Christian, I believe that Abraham is our father in faith because I believe that Jesus Christ who established a church on Peter the Rock was in the flesh a child of Abraham. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ begins with Abraham, the father of Isaac, the father of Jacob whose named was changed to Israel.
As a Christian, like Abraham, I believe in one God whom I believe through Christ has established a church to go into the whole world to proclaim God the father’s love for all people. This Jesus prayed that Christians be united in love for one another not to be able to defend themselves from anyone but together to proclaim God’s love for everyone.
Ask any Muslim who is Abraham. They see him called by the one God Allah as a prophet like Moses and Jesus and for them above all Muhammad.
So Jew, Christian and Muslim with Abraham are joined in their belief that there is one God, creator and ruler of all. What a blessing we could be for all the nations of the world, for all communities of people in the world, if we were united in love for God and for all of his creatures, particularly for all who are made in his image and likeness.
No, we are not yet there, which is the reason we need to continue to pray that we will get there. Praying for his help will hopefully remind us that we need to keep remembering why he revealed to Abraham that he, God is God alone, that there is no other God beside him. He chose Abram and those who would believe like him to be a blessing to everyone by proclaiming that there is only one God and one human race.
There is only one God. He created all of us to love him above all things and to love ourselves as he loves us.
God has chosen us to be a blessing to all we meet. We cannot do this by hating anyone — only by loving everyone.
“That the children of Abraham, Jews, Christians and Muslim be united in love for one another so that we can be a blessing to all the nations of the world.”
Msgr. Thomas R. Duffy is pastor of St. Michael Church in Garden City and dean of the Pee Dee Deanery.