A Reflection by Sister M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH
In the first reading for the Second Sunday of Lent (GN 12:1-4A) God tells Abram:
“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.”
Midrash is one of my favorite things. (No, it’s not a terrible affliction akin to shingles, although that’s what it sounds like.) Midrash is the practice of students of scripture who read a passage like the one above and wonder what happened before and after the event recorded.
What might have led up to it? What outcomes were possible? It’s all speculation, of course—none of it is verifiable in history—but pondering a reading in that way can be quite rich.
My first thought on this little reading is, “God sure knows how to sweeten a deal!” Certainly God realized how wrenching it would be for Abram to surrender his land. Ownership of land in many (not all) cultures confers status, security, even the right to vote (as in our country at one time). Abram should give all that up?
“You must be kidding, God.”
But then the sweetener: God promises Abram a new great nation, a wonderful reputation, unlimited blessings. Wow! So “Abram went as the Lord directed him.” Lucky for us he was so easily persuaded. But, I have to wonder what his wife had to say!
Circumstances call us, (not divine voices exactly, but…) and we are rarely so compliant as Abram. We dither, ponder, discuss, maybe dispute. “Why should I do that, or go there or accept such-and-such or so-and-so? Why me, now, here? What if I had other plans?”
I think particularly of women I’ve known or heard about—mothers of young families whose husbands suddenly die—a car crash, a stroke, a heart attack. Then what? How to acquiesce to that? How to go on? Could I?
Is such a tragedy a call that can bring its own grace, making acceptance possible? Are such experiences our transfiguring events? How many such calls come to us in the course of one lifetime? How do we answer them?