Gn 23:1-4,19;24:1-8,62-67; Ps 106:1-5; Mt 9:9-13
With the Psalm we ask: “Who can tell the mighty deeds of the LORD, or proclaim all his praises?” The mighty deeds of the Lord are seen in every generation and even with all of eternity we can never proclaim all his praises. The Lord remembers us because we are part of his people. He visits us and we see the prosperity of his chosen ones. We rejoice in the joy of his people and glory with his inheritance. Indeed we rejoice with Isaac who welcomes Rebekah into his family. His wife, like his mother, is willing to travel far and raise up children for Isaac because she trusts in the Lord. The Lord Jesus causes great rejoicing among the tax collectors and sinners. They receive his visit with joy because he reveals the Father’s great desire for mercy, a sacrifice that delights the Father’s heart. We, too, share in the feast of salvation in this Eucharist because here again, the Lord Jesus is found at table with the less than righteous.
After 127 years of life, Sarah died a foreigner. Abraham uses this universal experience of the death of a spouse to win the favor of the Hittites. In their compassion for an old man with such a loss they give into this resident alien. This lifelong nomad buys a field and the nearby cave facing his old favorite tenting spot, the oaks of Mamre. This transaction secures in history the promise made by the Lord to give him and his descendents new life in the land of Canaan. In his ripe old age there is only one thing left to do—find a wife for his son Isaac. He makes a trusted servant promise to find a woman from among his kin. Perhaps, Abraham is trying to insure that Isaac has the same kind of good marriage that he had with Sarah. Perhaps, he wants his son’s wife to be a woman of faith who is willing to trust the God who makes promises, and fulfills them in unexpected and challenging ways. Perhaps the religion of those among whom he lived as a resident alien would not foster the life of faith that he and Sarah enjoyed. When Rebekah and Isaac finally meet it is the servant’s account of the mighty deeds of the Lord that enables Isaac to love Rebekah and take comfort in her after the death of his mother Sarah. The promise of the Lord continues to inform and nourish another generation of believers. We, too, can never fully appreciate the great care and provident will of the God who makes promises to us and fulfills them in Jesus the descendent of Abraham, Sarah and Isaac and Rebekah. We, too, rejoice in the joy of God’s People.
In an unexpected and surprising move, the Lord Jesus calls a tax collector, Matthew. In the home of Saint Matthew the Lord Jesus and his other disciples gather with other tax collectors and sinner, and the Pharisees do not rejoice. What kind of example is this so-called teacher setting for his students? Among those chosen and serious about the covenant the Lord Jesus appears to be a foreigner. Doesn’t he know that the world will judge you on the bases of the company you keep? This is a scandal for the Pharisees. They simply can’t get their religious minds around such behavior. This is still a scandal in our day. Look at all the sinners who come to mass. Contemporary Pharisees, perfectionists can easily use this scandal to excuse themselves from getting too involved with those who are less righteous. The Lord Jesus is still a foreigner, and he cries out, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”