On this Second Sunday of Lent, the Church places before us the example of Abraham’s faith and trust in God’s Providence. He had promised many descendants to Abraham, and yet asks him to sacrifice his only son. Imagine the incredible amount of faith this required on Abraham’s part. It is akin to Mary’s trust in God’s plan for her to bear a Son, even though she had made a promise to Him of perpetual virginity. Sometimes what God wants of us doesn’t seem to make sense – and yet, when we finally see what He had in mind, it is much greater than we could have imagined.
As Abraham walked up the mountain to sacrifice his son, he almost certainly didn’t know why God was asking him to do this. Perhaps it seems brutal to us – God asking a man to kill another man. But what God wanted to do through Abraham was:
- Test his faith – As mentioned above, consider the humility and trust needed to abandon his own hesitation in the face of such a seemingly terrible request. He knew that God had something planned, he just didn’t know what.
- Foreshadow how much God the Father was willing to sacrifice for us when He sent Christ to die for us.
- Signal the end of human sacrifice – human sacrifice was never a part of the Israelite community, but it was present in the world at that time in other cultures. Abraham’s interrupted sacrifice was one of the most significant events in all of salvation history, and God staying the hand of Abraham was seen as a definitive statement about the end of violent sacrifice.
May we be thankful every day for the great love shown by God toward us in giving His Son for our salvation.
p.s. Since the Gospel mentioned the sacrifice of Abraham, I’m definitely using the Roman Canon (longer Eucharistic prayer). DEAL WITH IT 😉