Second Sunday of Lent
Give us, Lord, the courage of the cockchafer
He [the Lord] took him outside and said: “Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.” Abram put his faith in the Lord , who credited it to him as an act of righteousness. He then said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession.” “O Lord God,” he asked, “How am I to know that I shall possess it?” He answered him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon.” He brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other; but the birds he did not cut up. Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram stayed with them. As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him. When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking brazier and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces. It was on that occasion that the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River (the Euphrates), Gn 15,5-12.17-18
Ten years before the event narrated in the today passage, Abram was part of a family of nomadic people who were living in the region of Ur, between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. The Lord, however, had already looked at him and he had called him to be the leader of this grand divine work, still in progress, which is the history of the salvation of the world. He said to him: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you …. “To your descendants I will give this land.” (Gn 12,1-7). Abram trusted the Lord and he started together with his wife Sarah, already elderly, and during ten years he lived still in a nomadic mode, locating the tent sometime in a place and some other time in another place. He had no sons and no hope for them, because in the meantime Sarah became more aged. His human perspective was to live this world with no trace and descendants, because he was without sons, without land and without future. So Abram complained with the Lord: “See, you have given me no offspring, and so one of my servants will be my heir”. (Gn 15,3) At this point the today passage starts:”Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so” he added “shall your descendants be”. Then the Lord finalizes with Abram an alliance, in line with a well known ritual at that time in the land of Mesopotamia and he promises him again another land: “I give this land to your descendants”. The significant merit of Abram in the whole of this fact is to have trusted further the Lord and to have accepted to be conducted outside of the tent, to show him the starry sky and to make him again the promise made already ten years ago. But Abram did not only get out from his tent: he got out from his projects of life, from his limits, from his uncertainties, from a life without hope and from all the things which so far he had imagined, thought and hoped. This had been the courage of Abram and this is the same courage which the Lord requires to each of us. We have, the all of us, our limitations, our uncertainties and our disappointments, but we have also a project to be implemented which the Lord has prepared for us. Let’s get out, we too, from our poorness and from our twisted situations and let’s accept the challenge to get out to look at the sky and to count the stairs: also our project is big as the firmament is! Do not risk to make it small! Let’s have the courage of the cockchafer, an insect which, basing upon the calculations of the scientists, having that body, with those wings and with that form, could not be able to fly: but the cockchafer, despite his limitations, anyhow flies.