Today, we hear the story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. As I mentioned in a daily homily last week, some of the readings from the Old Testament in particular are not easy to understand. We have to wrestle with the meanings and understandings we are to talk away from these stories. We might ask: How would a God of love and mercy do something like this? How could Abraham have such total and complete trust in God. And think of Isaac looking up at his Father. What could have been going through his mind?
God is full of love and mercy. That is one of the truths of God that is at the foundation of what we believe as Christians. Yet God also sacrificed his son to be our redeemer and savior. I think of some of the rough experiences I have had in life, how at the end of my missionary term in Ecuador, I was amazed that I survived it and was still in one piece! Those experiences have given me the compassion and tenacity I have needed to follow my vocation as a priest, that’s for sure. Jesus, in his passion and journey to the cross, has united his sufferings to the suffering we go through in life. He can walk with us and show us love, mercy, and compassion for what we are going through. The cross is not an event that stands in isolation in our faith. With the cross, there is also resurrection, there is also eternal life. One cannot exist without the others. Perhaps the story of Abraham and Isaac foreshadows the story of God the Father and his beloved son.
As I thought about the story of Abraham and Isaac, the suscipe of St Ignatius of Loyola came to mind:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will.
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.
Your love and your grace – that is enough for me.
As we think of sacrifice today and the sacrifice that was asked of Abraham, may we ask ourselves what sacrifices we are willing to make for our faith, especially in light of Fortnight for Freedom we are commemorating in our Church.