Genesis 23:1-4, 19; 1-8, 62-67
Sarah lived one hundred twenty-seven years; this was the length of Sarah’s life. And Sarah died at Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. Abraham rose up from beside his dead, and said to the Hittites, “I am a stranger and an alien residing among you; give me property among you for a burying place, so that I may bury my dead out of my sight.”
After this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah facing Mamre (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan.
Now Abraham was old, well advanced in years; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his house, who had charge of all that he had, “Put your hand under my thigh and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live, but will go to my country and to my kindred and get a wife for my son Isaac.” The servant said to him, “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me to this land; must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” Abraham said to him, “See to it that you do not take my son back there. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and from the land of my birth, and who spoke to me and swore to me, ‘To your offspring I will give this land,’ he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there. But if the woman is not willing to follow you, then you will be free from this oath of mine; only you must not take my son back there.”
Now Isaac had come from Beer-lahai-roi, and was settled in the Negeb. Isaac went out in the evening to walk in the field; and looking up, he saw camels coming. And Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she slipped quickly from the camel, and said to the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking in the field to meet us?” The servant said, “It is my master.” So she took her veil and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent. He took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
Psalm 106: 1-5
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Who can utter the mighty doings of the Lord,
or declare all his praise?
Happy are those who observe justice,
who do righteousness at all times.
Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people;
help me when you deliver them;
that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
that I may glory in your heritage.
Matthew 9: 9-13
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.
And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
In the Old and the New Testament readings, people are called to follow the Lord’s Will. Abraham is following God’s promise to him to go to live among the Canaanites so his offspring would possess the land; an angel is following God’s orders to go before Abraham’s servant; Abraham’s servant is following orders and finally, Rebekah agrees to follow the servant of Abraham into a strange land. In all this following, there is obedience, cooperation with heavenly beings and earthly creatures, a plan of God, and ultimately, surrender of the Will to God’s leading. It all leads to the promises of God being fulfilled, of blessing and of comfort, or strengthening, in a time of sorrow.
In the Gospel reading, Matthew acted immediately to follow Jesus when he was called. When the Pharisees complained that Jesus was eating with tax collectors, Jesus alluded that they are merely sinners in need of mercy and healing. Matthew is the target person of Jesus’ ministry. In his case, following Jesus led to repentance and salvation. Jesus trusted that the person inside, trapped in the darkness of sin, was listening for a call from God.
All of us want to have the promise of eternal life: favor, deliverance, prosperity, gladness, joy, glory and inheritance. We want to rejoice in prosperity. Unlike the tax collector who would steal money and cheat, the real riches are the ones that cannot be bought. The real riches are for those who follow God.
Today, like Matthew, who followed God immediately when he heard his call, let us try to listen and hear the ways God is trying to lead us each day to follow him more closely into the blessings he wants to give us.