30th June 2021
HOPE OUTWEIGHS FEAR
Genesis 21: 5, 8‐20a
Psalm 34: 7‐8, 10‐11, 12‐13
Matthew 8: 28‐34
Have you ever been the object of a jealous person’s rage? Jealousy can lead some people to seek to remove or eliminate the person of whom they are envious. And being the target of jealous rage, especially when one can not do anything about it, can be so hurtful. It is then that we must realize that God is in charge and God will ultimate allow those who are in the right to share in the eternal goodness which God has prepared for us.
The passage from Genesis is a parallel account to the story of the Sarai being envious of the relationship between Hagar and Abraham and despising Abraham’s child from that relationship (Genesis 16). It seems a bit confusing in that according to some of the other passages in Genesis, Ishmael would have been in his early teens at the time of birth of Isaac. Yet in today’s passage, it sounds like he is still just a little child, hardly more than a baby himself. Hagar and her son, Ishmael, are banned from the family to which Ishmael rightly belongs. It is not because of Ishmael’s negative behaviour that he is exiled and disowned by his father. Ishmael seems not to have been mean to his younger half‐brother Isaac but played with him and in a positive way. Yet, because of the jealous rage of Isaac’s mother (Sarah), Ishmael and his mother are separated from Ishmael’s father, Abraham. Abraham, too, is saddened to send off his son. The passage demonstrates God’s love not only for the descendant(s) of Abraham through Sarah but also for the descendants of Abraham through Hagar, particularly when they cry out in trust to God. God promises Abraham that Ishmael will be come the father of many people. The followers of Islam trace their relationship back to Ishmael and his Father, Abraham.
The Gospel account presents Jesus traveling into a Gentile region. Here He encounters two demoniacs. The evil spirits are somewhat aware of Who Jesus is. They fear His divine power and realize that in the final scene of the drama between good and evil, good is going to win out. They do not want the final scene to be played out at this time.
As I reflect on the readings, I realize that God is in control. God takes care of those who need divine help. God will ultimately win the victory over evil. Those thoughts give me a sense of both hopefulness and a certain amount of trepidation.
The hopefulness comes from knowing that no matter how bad things are, God is still there with, and for, me. At times I may feel rejected and set apart on my own as did Hagar and her son, Ishmael. I sometimes don’t feel that I deserve the rejection I receive from others. It is then that I realize that God is with me in a way similar to the way Hagar and Ishmael were aware of God’s presence with them.
My feeling of trepidation comes from the fact that even though Jesus has won the ultimately victory, there are still going to be skirmishes between good and evil. And I may be, if I am not already, caught in the midst of the conflict. Providentially (not luckily), the hopefulness outweighs the fear. There is more power in God than in the forces opposed to the divine will. And, like the psalmist and Hagar and Ishmael found out, all I need to do is call upon the Lord, trusting in the Lord Who is awaiting my prayer as the Responsorial Psalm proclaims today: “The lowly one called and the Lord heard him.”