“…We have Abraham as our father…”
These were John the Baptist’s words to some of the Pharisees and Scribes who came to him for Baptism and who perhaps doubted the authenticity and the authority with which he worked. He said to them in Matt 3:8-9 “Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham”.
These words are applicable today as they were at that time. Many of us would rather rely on some past achievement, either personal or those of our relatives to the exclusion of a continuous persistent personal effort to improve ourselves.
Many of the Jewish people at that time felt that they already had the highest teaching and that they were already standing at the highest level. After all, why listen to some ill-clad wild fellow when “they had Abraham as their father”? Who was he to rebuke them? Wasn’t Abraham the beloved of the Almighty? And weren’t they descended directly from him? Wasn’t the entrance to the Kingdom of Heaven already guaranteed? After all, Abraham could always say a prayer of intercession on their behalf and God would always listen to him.
This arrogance played a major role in the downfall of the called people of Israel. It prevented them not only from recognising and listening to John the Baptist, but more importantly from recognising Jesus the Son of God, with its disastrous consequences.
This attitude prevented them from opening themselves to anything new since they thought that they already had it all. They felt that Abraham’s reputation was enough to ensure their entrance into Heaven, not realising that Abraham worked only for himself and that his righteous works applied and extended only to him alone and to no one else.
As a result of this their posture, they neglected to remain spiritually alert as regards themselves, ready to keenly examine any teaching that comes their way to see if they could profit by it. They closed themselves to other possibilities and as a result missed what was so important for their souls – the Message of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Today it could be safely said that the story is the same. Either out of presumption or fear, many of us would from the very outset reject whatever comes on our paths without at least giving it the examination which is so necessary. And just as those at that time missed what was so necessary for their Salvation, we also through this attitude risk missing out on what is of the utmost importance for our spirits.
We should see to it that this never happens to us and pray to God to give us the wisdom and the strength to be objective in whatever we do.