FEBRUARY 28, 2021 – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
by Fr. Manoling Thomas, CSsR
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/022821.cfm)
As we mature and develop as persons, our relationship with others should also undergo change! An example is the way we relate now with our own parents. Surely our way of relating with them now, is different from the way we related with them when we were children or growing teenagers. They remain as our parents whom we continue to esteem and respect as they are entitled to.
This too should be the case with our personal relationship with God. God wants that relationship; to grow, develop, and mature! Quietly go deep within yourself. Observe, and notice! Is there a difference now in the way God is relating with you from with the way God related with you when you were a child, or a growing teenager? How about from your side, has there been a change in the way you now relate with God?
Our 1st Reading today, which is from Genesis 22, is an example of an adult to adult relationship: between God and Abraham! Compare this with the relationship between Abraham and his young son, Isaac. The 1st Reading is a very touching illustration of a relationship that has matured. On the one hand we have the relationship between a human father Abraham, and his only son, whom he loved so much. On the other hand, we have the relationship between God and Abraham. Observe the way God addressed Abraham in verse 1, when God commanded Abraham to do something that was very difficult! Look at verse 11, after Abraham proved to God that he was more than willing to do whatever God asks of him! Listen to this: “‘Abraham, Abraham!’. And he said, ‘Here I am.’ He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.’” [22:11-12]. Do you notice the terms of endearment behind the way God called Abraham and the way Abraham responded? The way God addressed Abraham and intervened shows God’s concern for Abraham and his son, Isaac!
How did Abraham take God’s difficult command: that he sacrifice his only son whom Abraham loves so much? On those two occasions [vv. 1 & 11], Abraham’s response was the same: “Here I am.” “Here I am”, shows us Abraham’s nature, as a person always totally available to God. From the time they first met, Abraham had trusted, believed; and was totally obedient to God!
Did God really want a human sacrifice from Abraham? Of course not! The narrator of the story already made that clear to us! God only wished “to test” Abraham’s faith! In the opening verse we read: “After these things, God tested Abraham.” [v.1]. God’s demand of Abraham was not intended to be taken literally! But Abraham interpreted and understood it differently! Abraham took God’s command literally and seriously! Abraham was well prepared before embarking on that journey. Abraham’s willingness to undertake that long journey and follow a very difficult instruction shows us Abraham’s unwavering faith, firm trust, and total obedience to God!
Probably, deep inside Abraham, God’s command was completely incomprehensible and even unreasonable. Before this, in their old age, God gifted Abraham and his wife with a son! God gave Abraham this promise: “your very own issue shall be your heir” [15:4]. Abraham totally cut himself off from his whole past [12:1ff] when he left his homeland to obey God and follow God’s call. And now this same God was asking him to give up his whole future? Does this make any sense? Is God aware and sensitive to the fact of how much Abraham loves his only son, Isaac? And God wants Abraham to sacrifice him?
At this stage in your life, how would you describe the relationship between you and God? Has God ever asked you to do something very difficult and even painful; or do something incomprehensible and even seemingly unreasonable? How did you respond to God?
Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son on the mountain of Moriah. God the Father gave up His Only Son on Mount Calvary. God was merciful to the father and son, Abraham and Isaac! Through the angel, God intervened and Isaac’s life was spared. But did you realize that God showed no mercy to Himself? God did not intervene to spare Jesus from a violent and cruel death! God allowed His Only Son, whom He loved so much to die…to die so that all of us may have life…the fullness of life! [Jn. 10:10]. This is the God, Who invites you and me to continue to grow and mature in our personal relationship with Him!