5 Pentecost, July 9
“Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to a land that I will show you’” (Gen. 12:1). “Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house” (Ps. 45:10). “As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:19-20). Faith can seem a denial of fathers and families and the most intimate bonds of filial affection. “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brother and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciples” (Luke 14:26). Added together, the impression is dramatic: God alone, God alone, God alone! But, with mature reflection and a measure of honesty, the demand is exhausting and troubling; even, it seems, cruel.
Jesus met a man living among tombs, cast out the demons that abused him, and then said, “Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you” (Mark 5:19). Standing near the tomb, a young man clothed in white said to the women, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you” (Mark 16:7). Jesus, raised from the dead, goes home again to the place where he first met and called his disciples. Peter, having left everything, describes post-resurrection life with these few words: “I am going fishing” (John 21:3). He went fishing for fish, not for human beings. The risen Lord appeared, gave an abundant catch, sat with Peter and the other disciples for a seaside breakfast. And though no one dared to ask, they knew it was the Lord. They were at home, and they knew him.
Abraham had left his country and father and kindred. He was an old man enriched with every blessing. “[The Lord] has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, camels and donkeys” (Gen. 24:35). And yet, planning for his son Isaac’s marriage, he could think of nothing but home. He said to his servant, “you shall go to my father’s house, to my kindred, and get a wife for my son” (Gen. 24:38). Rebekah is a homeland; she is the anamnesis that makes alive everything true and good and beautiful in land of memory. “He took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her” (Gen. 24:67).
Leaving home is dramatic, returning a matter of love and beauty. “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made. … [How] glorious the splendor of your kingdom” (Ps. 145:8-12).
Jesus calls, saying, “Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and by burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). There is a rest and a humility and an ease that only home can give. And who is Jesus but home? “I’m going home,” said the prodigal son. A human past and a provident future are one. It is often said, “You can’t take it with you,” but you can and you must.
Look It Up
Read Genesis 24:38.
Think About It
Recall your childhood.