If God invites dialogue and intervention and is moved by human persons, God is thus open to changing God’s mind. This picture of God has implications for human interactions. In cultural and political movements, people often make up their mind and are unpersuaded by what other people say or do. When these others are suffering others, being unpersuaded is a mark of tyranny. When evidence of malevolent intention is presented and the evidence is brushed aside in favour of aligning with larger—national or otherwise—interests, impassibility is a crime.
Mothers like Hagar who bear the weight of racism in the wilderness (Genesis 21:14) are always on the verge of losing their children—inferiorized by racist prejudice. These mothers’ voices are crying out, “Do not let me look on the death of the child” (Genesis 21:16).
An intertextual reading of Genesis 12 and Psalm 121 demonstrates that, while our faithful relationship with God may be initiated by our willful act of leaving, our ongoing life journey can be sustained by our attention to nature’s ontological testimony of God’s unequal sovereignty. Just as the Hebrew pilgrims were given strength to live out their faith through ecological awareness and mindfulness, let us emulate this life of pilgrimage and boldly leave our anthropocentric lifestyles.
Just as asylum seekers fill US migrant detention centers, so too this week’s lectionary readings address social injustices faced by the stranger and the poor. Both readings present consequences for those who fail to extend hospitality to the vulnerable other.
Rather than portraying human difference as the punishment of God, Babel and Pentecost are complementary stories, each highlighting God’s intention for cultural and linguistic diversity. As we draw near to Pentecost Sunday, may we also consider the inherent value of language as a cultural identity marker and partner as advocates for language preservation.
All of humanity comes from the Source and all our journeys will lead us back to the Source. The story of Jacob’s Ladder reminds that God is not far away but right here in the ordinariness of our everyday struggles, the answer to our desire for oneness.
In the story of the rivalry between Esau and Jacob, we discover a typology that can shed an unflattering light on a number of the tensions that exist between people in the modern world.