Genesis 13:2,5-18; MAtthew 7:6,12-14
Yesterday, we looked at Abram and his nephew Lot.
The story of this particular occurrence in Abram's life begins with the following, "Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold."
Abram had the world on a string. He had everything at his fingertips. All he wanted and more spilled forth on to the open country as far as the eye could see. And yet all of this did not bring him happiness.
In fact it brought just the opposite: conflict.
He and his nephew struggled with one another. Conflict arose over their possessions and their land.
Of course even today how often we experience this conflict within families over possessions and wealth and the like? How often has material things destroyed families?
It the mist of the conflict, the resolution arises to separate. Lot takes what is his and moves to Sodom and Gomorrah, and of course we know what follows there.
Abram heads to the west to Hebron, which will become the place David is anointed king, so already a foreshadowing of things to come is unlocked for us.
But what i want to draw your attention to is what Abram does. The very last line of the text reveals to us what is at the heart of Abram's faith: "Abram moved his tent and went on to settle near the terebinth of Mamre, which is at Hebron. There he built an altar to the LORD."
He built an altar to the Lord.
In deed the on thing that is constant in Abram's life is this building of altars. From the moment Abram leaves his homeland to the moment of his death,a s he journeys forth, he always stops and builds an altar.
Altars built by the hand of Abram are scattered through his journey.
The altar symbolizes gratitude. Abram bows his head and bends his knee out of deep appreciation for the Lord, YWHW, who had called him forth, who had blest him abundantly, who had promised to guide him.
Abram never loses focus on the fact that his life with all of his riches, all of his struggles, all of his ups and downs are a gift from God, this one who spoke to him.
Abram never loses sight of the fact that it is the mysterious blessing hand of God that guides and provide as the journey unfolds.
Deep appreciation and penetrating gratitude really is the source of Abram's calmness and patience and peacefulness in the face of life's mysterious highs and lows.
This is why Abram becomes the father of faith. The power source that drives his ability to entrust himself to God's call is that deep and abiding gratitude and appreciation.
What about us in our life?
Do we build altars of gratitude to God in our homes. Do we enshrine places of appreciation for the ever watchful eye and helpful hand of God who journeys with us?
This is why we gather around the altar as catholics. We celebrate the Eucharist, which is Thanksgiving. We are invited to enter into the thanksgiving of JEsus to the Father and thus we are transformed and empowered to live a life of Christ, one of deep appreciation and gratitude from which all peace and goodness flows.
G.K. Chesterton stated it best, "the aim of life is appreciation."
It is appreciation and gratitude that light up the pathway that points to the narrow gate, as Jesus invites us to comprehend in the gospel. "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life."
It is gratitude that illumines the path that opens wide to the narrow gate. This is how we follow in the footsteps of the Father of Faith and journey forth with peace and goodness.