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Abraham

What I love about Abraham is the child like quality of his faith. God calls him to leave his country and his people to go to a new land, so he up and goes. Mind you, he never gets to enter the land, and only ever gets a glimpse of it, and wanders for the rest of his life living in tents.

Then God makes this great promise that he will be a great nation and have children more than the sand on the seashore, and the stars of the sky, but his wife is barren and they both live to a grand old age without children. Then when he finally does have a son, God asks him to take the boy up the mountain and sacrifice him there. So Abraham goes.

This child like faith and trust is simply awesome. It reminds me of St Therese. “Though he slay me, still will I trust Him.”

In fact, as Kierkegaard points out, the near sacrifice of Isaac never makes sense to Abraham. The only meaning he might just squeeze out of it is that the God he trusts does not, after all, demand human sacrifice the way the other pagan gods do. But what did it really mean? What was that whole absurd test about? What kind of a God is this who says, “Take your only son and kill him” only to say at the last moment, “Well, you don’t have to really. I was just testing you?”

This absurd, cruel and pointless exercise only makes sense two thousand years later, when, in the mystery of divine providence, the Almighty himself I (as he promised to Abraham) does indeed provide the lamb for the slaughter. He takes his own son and asks him to bear the wood up the mountain for the sacrifice, and there the one, full, final sacrifice is completed.

Suddenly Abraham’s sacrifice not only makes sense, it makes sense in a way that is so profound and mysterious that it strikes us dumb. Here is the greatest, and most mysterious meaning of all: that one seemingly absurd act of faithful obedience pays the riches dividends two thousand years later.

Think twice when you are tempted to disobey God’s plan. Does his way seem hard? Does his way seem to contradict common sense? Does his way seem absurd? Trust and obey. There is more going on within the cosmic pattern and dance than my poor eyes and yours can see.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00047406888409874960 Victoria

    A great reflection father, thank you.

  • mary margaret

    Father, I don’t think I’ve ever considered the not-yet sacrifice of Isaac in quite that way. Beautiful, and very clear. Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13669565372315999650 Jeffrey Smith

    I’m afraid it still doesn’t make any sense to me, but I’ve lost someone who was like a son to me, so I’m not unbiased.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05806647503738777388 TMB

    Father,This is the first time I have posted a comment…though I am a regular reader! Your message today seems as though it was written specifically for me. The “way” seems quite absurd to me right now. I really needed to “hear” the words “trust and obey!” THANK YOU…Let us pray for one another.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09819523933502820341 Terry Nelson

    Thank you for this meditation.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07007618921884871637 jim thompson

    have heard of this bishop saying that it is cool to pray to Allah? just curious?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    A Catholic Bishop? I think there may be a fellow in The Netherlands who has said something that may have been interpreted that way. I’d want to see the original documents before commenting one way or another.That’s not to say that all Catholic bishops can never get it wrong. Goodness knows we have some loony liberals amongst the Catholics.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    A Catholic Bishop? I think there may be a fellow in The Netherlands who has said something that may have been interpreted that way. I’d want to see the original documents before commenting one way or another.That’s not to say that all Catholic bishops can never get it wrong. Goodness knows we have some loony liberals amongst the Catholics.


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