The Sacrifice of Abraham/The Sacrifice of God

Feb. 25, 2024

Our first reading this Sunday tells the story of the testing of Abraham. Childless until old age, Abraham and Sarah had only one child together—Isaac. God promised Abraham that through this son, he would become the father of a great nation that would number as the stars of the sky or as the sands of the seashore. Now that he has committed himself to serving and obeying God, he is told that this great promise will not happen. But as always, Abraham says, “Yes, Lord.” (One of my favorite passages is where God speaks to Abraham, “Abraham,” and he responds, “Ready!” I wish I was as quick to say yes to God as Abraham.) But even when God asks him to do something that will be absolutely awful and makes no sense, Abraham is willing to do God’s will.

As they approached Mount Moriah where the sacrifice will take place, Abraham was carrying the knife for the sacrifice, and Isaac was carrying the wood for the fire. The early Church Fathers saw in this image a prefiguring of Jesus carrying his cross to Calvary. When they arrived, Abraham tied his son up and placed him on the wood. As he held up the knife to offer Isaac, an angel stopped him and said that he was not to hurt the boy. Abraham and Isaac then found a ram caught in a thicket and offered it in sacrifice. In this, the early Church Fathers see God doing what He would not ask Abraham to do. In place of Isaac, God provided the sacrifice. Jesus is the sacrifice who is offered for us. He is the Lamb (or Ram) of God who takes away the sin of the world.
We make our way through Lent to Holy Week, when we will see this exchange take place, as Christ dies for us.
Fr. Mike Comer

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