One of the great joys of life is to listen to family stories, you have a chance to hear where you have come from and what has preceded you in time. This extends to those who you are distantly related to and even to those who you share a similar cultural or ethnic background. We are fortunate this Sunday to be offered a story such as this, a story from our family in faith from the Letter to the Hebrews.
In this story we are given a cut down version of the experience of God’s chosen people starting with our forebear in faith Abraham and this account is of great interest to us as we are related to him by adoption through Christ. We can see from this account that Abraham lived by the virtue of Faith in a very profound way, he left his family and homeland, relying on the promise that God would give a land to him and his descendants.
This is a clear example of the exercise of the virtues of Faith and Hope, and yet the author tells us there is something greater than this initial promise of a physical homeland. The promise that Abraham left all for was only the beginning of the fulfilment that God wants to offer his family. We are called in a similar way as Abraham was, not to leave our country in a physical way but to prepare to travel to the ultimate homeland that God has made ready for us through his Son, Jesus, who died for us so that we might receive this ultimate gift.
We are called to exercise the gift of Faith that has been entrusted to us, tending to that seed which has been planted in our hearts. In doing this we also exercise the virtue of Hope, that God will deliver what has been promised. Of the three Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Love, Faith and Hope are only necessary in this world as we journey to our promised homeland, for Love will be the essence of God that we are immersed in for eternity. Most of us won’t be called to live out these virtues in such a profound way as Abraham and his descendants did, yet we are called to exercise them daily. We are called to trust in God and in his saving power and we actively participate in his plan to strengthen us in all the gifts and virtues that he has bestowed upon us.
Fr Tony King-Archer