Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Harmony and Sacrifice

Today's Readings

The first reading today could easily be rewritten in terms of many different kinds of personal relationships: family, work, office, organizational and religious. What is at issue in the first reading from the Book of Genesis is the value of harmony, the matter of collaboration, the willingness to sacrifice personal wants for the greater good.

Kinsmen Lot and Abram are in a situation where the land just is not large enough for the herds each of these men owned. The herdsmen who worked for the two were arguing ... the Hatfields and the McCoys are prefigured here!!! So, the senior relative, Abram, offers Lot the option of separating to different parts of the land, giving Lot the choice of which part of the land he wanted. Lot chooses what "looks" like that part of the land that looks better than the other. Abram, obviously a good man, agrees rather than continue to strife that existed. Lot moved eastward while Abram remained in the area where they had settled. One chose the expectation of a land of plenty while the older and perhaps wiser opted to remain in what might not appear to be the "richer" property. Ultimately, as often happens, the one who chose the shining, sparkling, promising land found himself in challenging countryside. Abram chose what was left to create harmony. Abram chose what many would have refused. He wanted peace more than apparent prosperity, more than having it his way.

The gospel fits well with the first reading, almost like pieces of a puzzle that make a whole, that create a good picture. Jesus is teaching that the way to what is valuable, to what will ultimately bring happiness to life is what might seem to be a constricted way, a life that asks for sacrifice. But, as Jesus teaches, this is what will bring us to finding and being able to lead a life that is peaceful, satisfying and rewarding. This is the result of making a sacrifice to achieve harmony, this is the result when we see that what we "would love to have" might be the sacrifice to guarantee us the life we want to live. Sometimes just having it our way is traveling down the wide road whereas it is the narrow road, the (temporarily) demanding way, the sacrificing personal wants that leads us into our own paradise.

For peace and success in human relations there is at times the need for sacrifice ... a giving in to others that ultimately results in more than was expected.