From the Editor – (Thursday, 10/30/2014, Gaudium Press) – After a brilliant military victory over some kings, Abraham received the visit of the high priest Melchizedek, who offered God a sacrifice with bread and wine and blessed Abram.
Four kings of Mesopotamia went to war against five Canaanites chiefs, and having been victorious, they seized all the possessions of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions. They also took Lot (the nephew of Abram) and his possessions and made off.
When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he mustered his retainers born in his own household, numbering 318, and gave chase as far as Dan. He and his retainers deployed against them under cover of dark, defeated them and pursued them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. (Gen. 14: 14-15) He recovered Lot and all his goods that had been looted. This admirable loyalty and dedication of his slave indicates that Abram treated them like his children.
When Abram returned from his victory, the king of Sodom came to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the Valley of the King) he wanted to offer him the recovered goods, but the man of God told him he would not accept ” not one thread, not one sandal strap, will I take of what is yours” (Gen. 14, 23). He did not want to have anything in common with the guilty city.
“Without father, without mother, without ancestry”
Another public figure went to see Abram, it was Melchizedek, the King of Salem, or Jerusalem, a priest who brought with him bread and wine; he sang praises to God and blessed Abram, and Abram gave him a tenth of everything he had conquered.
Something very mysterious surrounds Melchizedek. “He appears suddenly, as a meteor and he disappears once his mission has been fulfilled.” Monsignor Cauly says: In the person of the king and pontiff (Melchizedek) , Abraham honored, prophetically, the Messiah who was to come, a priest according to the order Melchizedek, as David prophesied and as St. Paul explains. Indeed, Melchizedek is one of the most striking prefigures of the Messiah.
The Bible only mentions Melchizedek in Psalm 109.4 and in the Epistle to the Hebrews, chapters 5 and 7. Referring to him, St. Paul says: “he has no father, mother or ancestry, and his life has no beginning or ending; he is like the Son of God. He remains a priest forever.” (Hebrews 7: 3). All chapter seven of the Epistle to the Hebrews is dedicated to demonstrate how Jesus’ priesthood is superior to the one of Aaron.
The bread and wine used by Melchizedek, symbolize the Eucharist and the sacrifice of the Mass. Christ “was acclaimed by God with the title of high priest of the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5: 10).
Covenant with God
Later on, God appeared to Abram and “then taking him outside, he said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars if you can. Just so will your descendants be,’ he told him. Abram put his faith in Yahweh and this was reckoned to him as uprightness.”(Gen. 15: 5-6).
The Almighty then ordered that Abram to sacrifice some animals, cutting each one in the middle. At that time, it was common for contractors to cut the body of animals in two, putting each part on one side and to walk in the middle, meaning that this was how they will be treated if they do not fulfill the contract.
In what concerns Abram’s sacrifice, God passed between the bodies a burning lamp; “That day the Lord made a covenant with Abram in these terms: ‘To your descendants I give this country, from the River of Egypt to the Great River, the River Euphrates” (Gen. 15, 18). But until that time, Abram had no children because his wife, Sarah, was barren. And they were in the land of Canaan for more than ten years already…
So Sarah suggested Abram for him to join her slave Hagar, who came from the land of Egypt, and he married Hagar, “according to the permission granted by God to the first men”. In such cases, the children born of the slave were considered as coming from the mistress (Gen 30.3). This solution find by Sarah, which reflected her lack of faith, will be later regretted by her.
In fact, Hagar, realizing that she had conceived, began to despise Sarah, and in return Sarah started to mistreat her salve, who, because, of this ran away. When Hagar was walking alone in the desert, an angel appeared to her and told her to rejoin her mistress, and announced her that she would bear a son who should be called Ishmael.
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Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary that she will grant us Abram’s inconditionality to the will of God, and that our love and understanding of the holy sacrifice of the Mass, prefigured by the sacrifice offered by the priest and king Melchizedek, may grow in us .
Paul Francisco Martos
1) – FILLION, Louis-Claude. La Sainte Bible commentée. 6. ed. Paris: Letouzey et ané. 1923, vol. 1, p. 66.
2) – Idem, p. 65.
3) – CAULY, Eugène Ernest. Cours d’instruction religieuse – Histoire de la Religion e de l’Église.4. ed. Paris: Poussielgue. 1894, p. 33-34.
4) – Cf. FILLION, Louis-Claude. La Sainte Bible commentée. 6. ed. Paris: Letouzey et ané. 1923, vol. 1, p. 65.
5) – Cf. FUSTER, Eloíno Nácar e COLUNGA, Alberto OP. Sagrada Biblia – versión directa de las lenguas originales. 11.ed. Madrid: BAC. 1961, p.43.¨
6) – Cf. ROHRBACHER, René-François. Histoire universelle de l’Église Catholique, Paris: Louis Vivès. 1872, v. I, p. 437.
7) – CAULY, Eugène Ernest. Cours d’instruction religieuse – Histoire de la Religion e de l’Église.4. ed. Paris: Poussielgue. 1894, p. 34.
8) – Cf. FILLION, Louis-Claude. La Sainte Bible commentée. 6. ed. Paris: Letouzey et ané. 1923, v. 1, p. 69.