Thursday, December 20, 2012

Advent XIX

The Bible is full of stories of people who have great faith in God.  Of course, when the word faith is mentioned in the context of scripture, Abraham is usually the first one who comes to mind.  However, he was only one of the many who had incredible trust in God.  The story of the birth of Jesus enables us to see the faith of two young people who had Abraham like faith.  These two teenagers, Mary and Joseph, reveal an incredible trust as they put their future squarely in the hands of God.  Even though both knew that Mary's story of her pregnancy was not going to be believed by the "tongue waggers" of their hometown, they both came to a place of trusting God to act according to His Word.  When they left Bethlehem with their newborn son, God directed them to go to Egypt instead of  their home village, so  they went becoming members of the refugee community.  By the time they were directed to return home, the "tongue waggers" had gone to fresher subjects. 

Their faith in God took them on the incredible journey of being parents to the Son of God. It took them from Bethlehem and waiting family in Nazareth to Egypt.  And, finally, it led them back home when it was safe and their son's life was no longer in danger.  It is indeed a story of incredible faith and they were little more than children when the Abraham like journey began.  The faith they modeled was a risky faith, one which was dependent upon God, and one which went outside the boundaries of common sense and understanding.

In a book entitled Gratefulness, the Heart of Prayer the author, Brother David Steindl-Rast writes a word about Abraham that applies to Mary and Joseph as well:  Abraham's faith, his trust in God, was able to uphold even beliefs that seemed contradictory on the level of mere intellectual reasoning."  Even as it made no sense for Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice, neither does much of the nativity story make sense if you are Mary and Joseph listening to the voice of God being spoken through an angel telling you that the Savior of the world is going to be your son.  It surely required an amazing journey of faith, one much more arduous than a mere journey to Bethlehem.

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