July 4, 2019 – Thursday 13th Week in OT
Book of Genesis (22:1B-19)
God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a burnt offering
on a height that I will point out to you.”
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the burnt offering,
set out for the place of which God had told him.
On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
Then he said to his servants: “Both of you stay here with the donkey,
while the boy and I go on over yonder.
We will worship and then come back to you.”
Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering
and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,
while he himself carried the fire and the knife.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
“Father!” he said.
“Yes, son,” he replied.
Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood,
but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
“Son,” Abraham answered,
“God himself will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.”
Then the two continued going forward.
When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Here I am,” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, “On the mountain the LORD will see.”
Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessingBall this because you obeyed my command.”
Abraham then returned to his servants,
and they set out together for Beer-sheba,
where Abraham made his home.
Gospel of Matthew (9:1-8)After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
At that, some of the scribes said to themselves,
“This man is blaspheming.”
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
:Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he then said to the paralytic,
“Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He rose and went home.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe
and glorified God who had given such authority to men.
What if that something which you are so attached to is needed to be let go in order for you to grow? I remember when I was still a young boy, I was so attached with my baby bottle. I used that bottle until I was about 6 years old. However, I was asked to let it go and stop using it since I was already six and was about to start schooling. I wanted to start school with my friends but I found it very difficult to let go of my baby bottle. I was told that I could not bring it with me and the only way of going to school with my friends was to let go of that baby bottle.
When we develop some forms of attachments, whatever that may be, we could become rigid, in the way that our attachments will only be the focus of our world. We would tend to limit ourselves from discovering more about ourselves and about others because we are already fixated to one or two. Thus, there is also a need for us to look at our attachments and fixations and to see if they are helpful or not in deepening our friendship with God and others.
The Book of Genesis tells us that God tested Abraham’s faith. Abraham seemed to enjoy very much the company of his son, Isaac. He was a proud dad. He really loved his only son, Isaac. Isaac was the most precious gift he received from God. And we could imagine that Abraham was really so fond of Isaac. His world could have been so bright when Isaac came.
Yet, God tested Abraham, but not to test him to commit murder or slaughter an innocent boy. God’s test to Abraham was God’s way of making Abraham to trust God fully and completely. This is the reason why God asked Abraham to sacrifice his most precious gift. Abraham’s affection for his son was his attachment.
God wants Abraham to advance his faith and attachment to the will of God. And indeed, Abraham proved that his only attachment was God. By trusting fully the Lord, Abraham was even blessed by God. This was how Abraham also discovered the importance of his relationship with the Lord. This relationship brought him life and blessing.
The Gospel also tells us of a story that portrays how attachment can make a person rigid and close-minded. The scribes in the Gospel story show how their attachment to human rituals, traditions and old beliefs can become a hindrance to healing and freedom. They have accused Jesus of blasphemy because he forgave the sins of the paralytic and healed him.
The attachment of the scribes to the status quo that only the elite such as them, the Pharisees and Jewish authorities have the right to teach and be close to God, prevented them to recognize that Jesus is Lord. Indeed, their attachment to their privileges and titles in the society averted them to be surprised on how God works wonders.
Today, God invites us to let go of our attachments and fixations that only prevent us from growing in our relationships with God and with others and from knowing better ourselves.
Our attachments to material things might prevent us from becoming more intimate with people who are dear to us. Our fixations with our achievements and successes may also stop us from being considerate with those who failed in life. Our attachments to some addictive behaviors may also prevent us in realizing our gifts and potentials. Remember, an unhealthy attachment is suffocating and restraining. It will not make us free and alive but rather constrained and dead.
As Abraham found attachment in God’s friendship, he also found life and blessing. As Jesus found attachment in his Father’s will, he was able to bring freedom from sin and healing to the broken. We may also grow in our attachment to God who shall give us healing, freedom and true life. Hinaut pa.
Jom Baring, CSsR