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I was struck by the readings on Sunday, regarding the covenant with Abraham and the Transfiguration. One key to understanding Scripture is to look at how the Church combines them in the Mass readings. The gospel reading is nearly always a commentary (sometimes very subtle) on the Old Testament text in the first reading. Both the readings on Sunday were, by no accident, “vision literature’ and both relate stories that describe real-world experiences of Otherworld things pertaining to the future, to the idea of the promises of God.
The vision experience of Abraham in Genesis 15 is well known and it culminates with a childless man being told that his descendants will be like the stars of the sky and will be given the land from the Wadi of Egypt to the Euphrates. A careful reading of the text is revealing, because God conducts Abraham outside to “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” (Ge 15:5) in the daytime. It is not until a little later that the sun goes down (v. 12). So the point of the promise is that God makes it when there is zero evidence that Abraham is going to have any descendants at all, much less as many as the stars.
and shall be raised above the hills;
and many peoples shall come, and say:
House - God - Jacob
to the house of the God of Jacob;
and that we may walk in his paths.”
Word - LORD - Jerusalem
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
and shall decide for many peoples;
Spears - Hooks
and their spears into pruning hooks;
We who live after the genocide of Natives, slavery, lynching, Jim Crow and the rest of the dark history of white Christians in North America snort with cynicism at the idealism of the Pilgrims and similar Utopians in search of Home, but the fact remains that...
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