Willingness to follow

Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7) Psalm 116:1, 10-17 Romans 5:1-8 Matthew 9:35-10:8(9-23)

‘My Lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant.’  [Genesis 18:3]

The nineteenth century missionary Hudson Taylor is credited with the statement, “God isn’t looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him.”

Father Abraham followed; Father Abraham is known as the first patriarch.  Our Old Testament lesson describes the visit of three men addressed by Abraham as “My Lord.”  We could speculate that this is an encounter with the Holy Trinity – One God in 3 persons.  Nevertheless, hospitality was of paramount importance in the culture of Abraham’s day.  Great sacrifice is made to provide comfort and sustenance for visitors who appear unannounced. 

These are quite special visitors who brought life-changing news to Abraham.  In due season, they announce, Abraham and Sarah, at advanced age beyond childbearing years, would become the parents of a son.  This child about whom our Old Testament lesson speaks is Isaac.  Isaac would become the father of twins – Jacob and Esau.  Jacob will steal the birthright and become Father Israel Thus, it would be Jacob who would carry on the patriarchal legacy; he would become the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel that exist until this day.  As the song says, “Father Abraham had many sons.”

Why would God have chosen Abraham in this very special way?  What were his credentials?  We know, and we will read in the coming weeks as the saga continues, that Abraham would become recognized as the epitome of faith – we speak of Abrahamic faith.  Abraham trusted God’s lead regardless of the sacrifice he would be called upon to make.

“God isn’t looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him.” 

Why would God have chosen Abraham?  Why had Jesus chosen each of these twelve ordinary-seeming men to be his disciples?  We know very little about any of these twelve; like Father Abraham, they come with sparse resumes.  As we read about them in our Gospel lessons every week, they seem to stumble and fall a lot much like we do.  Yet, we read from Matthew’s Gospel this morning that Jesus gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness.

[Jesus’ concern at this stage in his ministry is for his own people – the Jewish people; that concern will evolve to include all people of all nations as Matthew’s Gospel continues.]

We know relatively little about these 12 disciples listed here except that they were individuals ready to follow Jesus wherever that might lead.

The Apostle Paul confirms that our faith is not rated by quality or quantity.  In his letter to the Romans, Paul’s message is clear.  It is a message for the ages:  Our justification is through the grace of Jesus Christ; we neither deserve our salvation nor can we earn our salvation.  The only necessary element is faith – a readiness to follow.

Our earthly fathers, whom we celebrate today, come with or without all sorts of credentials and resumes.  Recognizing that mothers often must be fathers as well – and sometimes fathers must be mothers – with all political correctness considered, the reality is that our earthly fathers create for us our image of God. 

What an enormous responsibility!!  We adults are “gods” in the eyes of the children around us.  Earthly fathers even have the same name with which we refer to our heavenly Father. 

None can doubt the correlation between the presence of a fatherly relationship and the reduced rates among youth, particularly males, of incarceration, suicide, behavioral disorders, and school drop out.  We mothers do our best, but nothing substitutes for at lease some form of the authority, discipline, protection, and unconditional love of father – the image of our Heavenly Father.  For fathers everywhere, fathers ready to follow the will of our Heavenly Father, fathers seeking to live up to their responsibility to be the earthly representative of our Heavenly Father – for all fathers we offer our prayers and we give thanks.  There are few earthly gifts that surpass the gift of an earthly father who demonstrates for us unconditional love – the unconditional love of our heavenly Father, the willingness to follow God’s will.

“God isn’t looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him.”

In closing, I share this prayer appropriate for this theme and this occasion of Fathers’ Day.  It is from the 19th century monk, Brother Charles of Jesus:




I abandon myself

into your hands;

do with me what you will.


Whatever you may do

I thank you;

I am ready for all,

I accept all.

Let only your will

Be done in me


And in all your creatures,

I wish no more than this,

O Lord.


Into your hands

I commend my soul;

I offer it to you

With all the love of my heart,

For I love you Lord,

And so need to give myself

Into you hands,

Without reserve,

And with boundless confidence,

For you are my Father.




‘My Lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant.’

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