Today’s lessons are wonderful examples of prayer and the mercy of God. Abraham sent his servant back to his homeland to find a wife for his son, so that he would not choose a pagan wife. The servant sought God to bless his efforts and make his search a success and the text says, “Before he had finished praying he saw a young woman named Rebecca….” Jesus said that our heavenly Father knows what we need before we even ask but notice that He did not tell us that we don’t need to ask. Just the opposite. We are to be diligent in seeking and asking and knocking and when we do we discover a merciful God who answers our prayers sometimes even before we finish praying. Later as the servant is recounting to others how Abraham sent him out on this mission, he says that Abraham assured him that he would be successful. Abraham said, “The Lord in whose presence I have lived, will send his angel with you and will make your mission successful.” This leads me to believe that the mercy of God is operating all around us, all the time, in ways that are often invisible to us. I imagine I have worn more than a few angels out protecting me from my own stupidity.
The Gospel lesson is about the faith of the Roman officer who appealed to Jesus to heal his servant and when Jesus offered to come to his home he told Jesus he understood how authority works and so rather than coming to his home, all Jesus needed to do was to speak the word. Anglicans paraphrase his words to Jesus at the Mass. “Lord I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof, but speak the word only and my soul shall be healed.” Or one of the secrets that the priest prays is “Lord I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof, but trusting in Thy lovingkindness I approach thy altar” The Roman officers combination of humility and faith had Jesus remark that he had not seen faith like that in all of Israel and it was a Gentile who was displaying it. Of course, in the mercy of God, the servant was healed. Humility and faith is how we approach the Throne of Grace.
The Psalm reminds us that God’s mercy is not without its limits and it calls us to pray for our nation. “The wicked will go down to the grave. This is the fate of all the nations who ignore God.”