44. ALLIANCE. Come out of your land

Come out of your land

1. The large biblical experiences manifest God´s way to act, his action in the middle of history. It is said by the Council: “He so manifested Himself through words and deeds as the one true and living God that Israel came to know by experience the ways of God with men.” (DV 14). This is also valid today, since “all that is written, was written for our teaching” (Rm 15, 4). Besides, the large biblical experiences also address us to the meeting with Christ. They deliver a testimony of him. Jesus says it to the Jews: “You search in the Scriptures thinking that in them you will find life; yet Scripture bears witness to me.” (Jn 5, 39). Therefore, we go to the encounter of Christ by the ways of the living God. Let us see the experience of the Alliance, the experience of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, point of encounter for Jews, Christians and Muslims, for many others too.
2. In the general frame of a disperse humanity (Gen 3-11), we approach Israel’s origin. An emigration is the starting point of an immense adventure, not only of the Israelite people, but also of all the humanity that will be sitting to the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s table (Mt 8, 11). When Abraham goes out of Ur of Chaldea a new religion is born, the religion of the Alliance. The man finds himself in relation with God, in dialogue with him, he listens (at last!) the noise of God´s steps through the garden of this world (Gn 3, 8). This fundamental biblical experience  is expressed with the ordinary formula of the covenant: God “is with us” (Ex 3, 14; Mt 28, 20).
3. In a covenant situation, Abraham experiments God´s action in history. God assumes his destiny: “Get out of your land and go to the land I will show you” (Gn 12, 1). Abraham leaves his roots, that are related to the  disperse humanity of Babel, Babylon’s hebrew name (Gn 11). He overcomes the radical temptation, “you will be like gods”, with its repercussions in the family, in the work, in the death (Gn 3). Abraham listens God´s word and he leaves his land, his people, his clan. He renounces to the safety that those offer him, but his departure means a liberation. With him a new people begins, born from God´s hands. Like in a start.
4. Abraham figure (about 1.800 b. C.) belongs to the frame of a known history. His name, his movements, his uses, his way of life, are placed in the context of the Aramean migrations of Mesopotamia, Babel grounds. Abraham follows the route of the caravans looking for pastures for his flock. They are nomad tribes. They want to establish themselves in cultivating soil. They cannot read or write, but they transmit from children to grandchildren the ancestors’ experience. The narrations are easy to remember, since they are tied to places that the caravan finds in its movement: the oak, the mount, the well, the steppe.
5. Abraham’s tradition gathers diverse experiences. Abraham does not have the Bible, he listens God´s word in the ordinary circumstances of life; God introduces himself in everything. For instance, in the work. Abraham and his nephew Lot increase their flocks and they have room problems so that they have to part away: “Don’t let there be a dispute between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and yours, since we are brothers. Isn’t the whole land there before you? Let us part company. If you go to the left, I will go to the right; if you go to the right, I will go to the left.” (Gen 13,8-9). Abraham gives Lot the opportunity to choose the region he prefers. Lot takes the best part, the Jordan meadow, the grounds of Sodom, fertile like God´s garden, like the country irrigated by the Nile. Abraham stays in the grounds that he did not choose, but that God chose for him. By the way, are we in the grounds that God chose for us?
6. The meeting between Abraham and Melquisedec has a deep religious meaning of ecumenical range. Besides, it presents a model of priesthood, which is not really Leviticus. Melquisedec (King of Salem, priest of God the Highest) perceives God´s action in Abraham’s favour. He offers him bread and wine in a hospitality gesture and he blesses him saying: “Blessed be Abraham by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth, and blessed be God Most High who has delivered your enemies into your hands!” (Gn 14,19). The Christ´s new priesthood in the order of Melquisedec (Ps 110) will have its precedent in him: “You were not pleased with burnt offerings and sin offerings…. Here I am. I will do your will, O God” (Heb 10,5-7).
7. In Mambre´s oak wood, in the hottest part of the day, Abraham is sitting in front of his tent. He raises his eyes and he sees three pedestrians stopped at his side. The pedestrians are three (18,2), then they are two (19,1). It is not that the text vacillates, as some say. One of them is God, the main pedestrian (18,3.10.13 and 17, 32) What the song says is what happens “When we call brother to the stranger, it is God who goes in our same walking”. Abraham perceives in them the Lord’s presence who walks with them. He tells him: “My Lord, do not pass your servant by” (18,3). He accept them, he offers  them a meal and talks with them. The Lord says: “ At the same time next year I will return and Sarah by then will have a son" (Gen 18,10). The pedestrians (two now) arrive to Sodom. Lot receives them at his home. The pedestrians leave him this message: “Don’t look back and don’t stop anywhere in the plane. Flee to the mountain. (Gen 19,17). The strangers should be respected, but Sodom’s inhabitants attempt against them. The zone elected by lot is of volcanic type and it is completely destroyed. Lot with his daughters escapes the catastrophe. His wife looks back and she became a pillar of salt (19,26).
8. Let us see now a family’s problem. Abraham had two women, the free and the slave, Sarah and Agar. God´s word assumes Sarah desires and Abraham must do what his wife tells him: “Send this slave girl and her son away” (21,10). Abraham was sorry for this, but God told him: “Don’t be worried about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to Sarah and do whatever she says…. From the son of your servant I will also form a nation, for he is also your offspring” (21, 12-13).
9. In mount Moriah´s passage, Abraham is in disposition to make an atrocity; each epoch has their own: to sacrifice his own son if God asks him to do it. Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush and sacrificed it in place of his son (22,13). That place will not be forgotten. He called him: “The Lord provides” (22,14). The Lord confirms his promise: “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore” (22,16-17). Total disposal, like that of Albino Luciani. Before be ordered like a priest, he spent some days in the carthusian monastery of Vedana, in the Alps Dolomites. The morning in which he left the house the prior asked him: “What do you expect the day after tomorrow, when you become a priest of God?”. “Nothing, he answered, I give in myself to his will: he will make with me whatever he want”. The prior told him: “Only if the abandonment is total, God will do with you great things. In the abandonment and the total disposal to God you will know yourself, your identity is a mysterious fact, it has its roots in the Lord Christ who has elected you” (Bassotto, 55)
10. God´s mediations are very diverse. Abraham wanted to look for a wife for his son Isaac, by means of his servant, between the girls of his own country. The servant goes to Mesopotamia and meets Rebecca near the well.  He, actually, had just done a prayer to the Lord: I am standing at the spring while the girls of the city are coming to draw water. Now, I will ask them like this: “please tilt your pitcher so that I may drink, and the first girl who answers: Drink and I will water your camels as well, that will be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac” (Gen 24,13-14). The servant said Rebecca: “Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher.” She let him drink. And she added: “I am going to water your camels as well, until they have had enough” (Gen 24,17-19). The servant began to see very clear the whole thing. At the end Rebecca belongs to his master´s family.  The young girl runs to announce all these things to her mother. The servant is sheltered in her home. The family embraces the story: “This is God´s doing” (24,50). They ask the girl’s opinion and she says: “I shall go” (24-58). And she departs towards Isaac’s  tent.
11. Let´s see Jacob’s , son of Isaac, dream. Fleeing from a family’s conflict, Jacob stops in a place (Betel, God´s home), in Canaan’s  steppe, where the night comes over and he places a stone to put his head on. He has a dream. He sees a stair, a staircase like a temple, that was supported on the earth and with the other end touching the heaven. God´s messengers went up and down on it. The Lord was there in the high. The voice in the dream said: “The land on which you sleep, I shall give to you and your descendants.” (Gen 28, 13). Jacob’s dream is accomplished in Christ, true God´s temple: “You will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man” (Jn 1,51; 2,21). In him all families in the earth will be blessed”. (Ps 72,17).
12. The God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, says Jesus, is a God of the living and not of the dead, and for him all are alive. The Sadducees do no believe that the dead may resurrect and they object citing the woman that marries seven times: to which of them will the woman be wife in the resurrection? Jesus answers: “For those who are considered worthy of the world to come and of resurrection from the dead, there is no more marriage. Besides, they cannot die for they are like the angels. They too are sons and daughters of God because they are born of the resurrection. Yes, the dead will be raised, and even Moses implied it in the passage about the burning bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. For he is God of the living and not of the dead, and for him all are alive.” (Lk 20,35-38).
13. The Sadducees are in error because they understand neither the Scriptures nor God´s power (Mt 22,29).  Jesus says that it was already indicated by Moses when he calls the Lord “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (Ex 3,6). He is a God of those alive. Jesus tightly associates the knowledge of the living God, God of the living, and the experience of the resurrection. People becomes astonished. It is not only the soul’s immortality. It is a new creation that is already being born: “The time arrives (we are already in it) in which the dead will hear the voice of the son of God and those who hear it will live” (Jn 5, 25), “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard what God has prepared for those who live him (1 Co 2, 9) “the just will judge the nations (Wis 3,8), “they will shine forever like stars” (Dan 12,3) “the Lord will take in his hands our destiny” (Ps 126), also in the death
14. The physical descend is not important, but the faith and the conversion. John the Baptist advises it: “Do not think that it is enough to say: We have Abraham for our father. I tell you that God can raise children for Abraham from these stones” (Mt 3,9). Jesus says something similar: “If you were Abraham children, you would do like Abraham did” (Jn 8,39). On his part, Paul affirms that the believer people is born from the faith of Abraham, “father of all of us, as the Scripture says: I will make you father of many nations. Our father before That in whom he believed, of God who gives life to the dead, and calls into existence what does not yet exist, (Rom 4,16-17).
15. Alliance means God´s love to the men. “God loved us first” (1 Jn 4, 19). God´s love goes ahead of us. Alliance also means the love of  the men to God. Love to God is the first and main commandment. (Dt 6, 4 – 9). The Pharisees suspect that Jesus places the strength in the second commandment and that he looks down the first one. That is why they test him by asking: “Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?” (Mt 22, 36). Jesus answers them: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and the most important of the commandments.  39 But after this there is another one very similar to it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The whole Law and the Prophets are founded on these two commandments.” (Mt 22, 34 – 40)

16. Certainly, when the young rich man nears Jesus and asks him what should he do to inherit eternal life, Jesus answers: “You already know the commandments” And he mentions those that refer to the neighbour: “Do not commit adultery, do not kill, do not steal, do not accuse falsely, honour your father and your mother.” (Lk 18, 20). The Pharisees accuse Jesus of healing on Saturday (Mt 12, 14), and to his disciples of doing on Saturday what is not licit, to pull out some heads of wheat to satisfy their hunger. Really, says Jesus, the Pharisees do not understand the meaning of : “It is mercy I want, not sacrifice” (Mt 12, 1 -14)

* Dialogue: Do we live the experience of the Alliance?
- We get out of our land, we go to another land
- We recall the oak-wood, the mount, the well, the steppe
- We understand the Scriptures and the power of God: he is not a God of the dead, but of those alive
- It is mercy I want, not sacrifice

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