Fr. Vincent Hawkswell
God asked Abraham to give him his son Isaac in what God intended to be a mental act, but he let him reach the very brink of killing his son before he intervened. “I know now how devoted you are to God,” he said, but only now could Abraham know it, too.
During Lent, the Church invites us to submit to God in action, not just in thought, word, or intention.
For example, we say we are ready to give up something for love of God; the Church asks us intentionally to give up food and money, in what she calls “fasting and almsgiving.” We say we are ready to admit our guilt, humbly beg God’s forgiveness, and amend our lives; the Church asks us actually to go to confession and do penance. (2021)
Fr. Austin Fleming
A CONCORD PASTOR COMMENTS
What do you make of that story about Abraham, Isaac and God? Which is more difficult for us to understand: that God would ask Abraham to sacrifice his son? or that Abraham would accede to God’s request? Neither is something we can easily comprehend, let alone accept. We can’t imagine a loving God asking such sacrifice of a father and we can’t imagine a loving father saying yes to such a request. But let’s be careful to make no judgment on God or Abraham. We can be confident that the Lord is a loving God (in the happy ending, Isaac is spared) and we can be equally confident that Abraham was a loving father whose heart was breaking as he prepared to do what God had asked of him.
Our problem with the story may come if we can’t imagine a love for God greater than our love of anything else, if we can’t imagine a love for God greater than our love for any-one else.
Let’s fast-forward some 3,000 years to February 15, 2015. On that day, two weeks ago, in Libya, 21 Egyptian men were gruesomely slain – for being Christian and for refusing to renounce their faith. (2015)
Fr. Evans K Chama, M.Afr
One activity that we can associate with Lent is walking –it’s a journey. That’s why, in some places, you organise Lenten pilgrimage which is, essentially, about walking. The idea is to displace oneself which implies leaving what’s familiar to me and discover something new. It’s learning to let go. Can I say I have already started moving? (2018)
Fr. Chama’s reflection is divided into the following sections:
- Blood thirsty God, bad note our sensibility
- Faith of Abraham, he’s chosen to move on
- Let’s build three tents
- This can inspire us also about prayer
Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
DIOCESE OF ST. PETERSBURG
Putting others first, being charitable, is therefore not just a good thing to do, it Is the necessary way of life for those who are called to eternal life. When parents put their children before themselves, they are not just being good parents, they are being great Christians. When husbands and wives put their spouses before themselves, they are not just being good husbands and wives, they are being great Christians. When we make time to help that elderly neighbor, we are not just being a good neighbor, we are being a great Christian. When we go to that hospital even though it is so difficult to see someone we love suffering, we are not just doing a good thing, we are being great Christians. When we have compassion on those that society is attacking or marginalizing knowing that many of our so-called friends will look down on us for associating with these people, we are being great Christians. When we sacrifice our wants for the needs of others, we are not just doing a wonderful thing; we are making the presence of Christ real in the world. We are participating in God’s plan for mankind. (2021)
The first reading and the Gospel are powerful and puzzling. Both are important narratives, but they often lead to more questions than answers. These texts remind us to read and reflect on Scripture, pray for clarity and be comfortable with the unknowability of some things… As we continue our Lenten journey, we can be inspired by today’s readings, which remind us that we are not alone in our quest for understanding and clarity, and we should invest time in critically studying and praying. (2021)
Fr. George Smiga
BUILDING ON THE WORD
When we ignore our status as beloved daughters and sons and begin to see ourselves primarily as sinners, as victims, as unlovable, as flawed, as unworthy, the power of the gospel is lost to us. Do we sin? Are we flawed? Is there a real sense that we are unworthy of the tremendous love that God showers on us? Of course. But despite all of those flaws, we remain chosen and beloved children of God. It is only by claiming our true identity that we find the power to turn away from sin, the power to heal our hurts, the power to claim the dignity that God has so freely given us. (2006)
Title of Fr. Smiga’s other homilies for this Sunday (located on the same page) are:
- Good news, bad news, and faith
- The tragedy in Chardon
- Misunderstanding God
- Following Elijah and Moses
Fr. John Kavanaugh, SJ
SUNDAY WEB SITE
If I believe that God is good and will keep his promises, the test is not as cruel or irrational as I first thought. What is more, I think this story concerns more than Isaac’s death. It is about the death of us all.
Each of us is required to make Abraham’s sacrifice. We all must face the inevitability of letting go our most beloved person, task, accomplishment, joy. Everything dear to us, everything given to us by God is subject to death: its own and our own.
The essence of the story is this: Is God good? And will God keep his promises? Abraham is our father in faith because he embodies the final act of faith that all of us must make. We all face the sacrifice. We all stand before the terrible relinquishment of everything we hold most dear.
In short, though Jesus promised us eternal life, He never promised that life would be a rose garden. What He did promise us was the cross — twenty four hours a day, seven days a week — and that suffering was necessary before eternal glory can be ours.
Sometimes we have problems understanding the whys and wherefores of daily life. We don’t know how we are going to resolve the trials and tribulations that confront us on what seems to be a continuous basis. At times like this, the Lord asks us to have faith in him.
At a time when “being real” is portrayed in songs, television shows, and movies as being rude, bad-mannered, vulgar, and mean it may take some extra effort to show the better real self – the decent, civil, charitable, and kind.
The season of Lent is a good time to create a holy space where a meeting with God can take place. It may mean literally going off to a mountain for a retreat or a recollection. The teachers of the spiritual life in the early years of Christianity, otherwise called the Church Fathers, preferred to go to the desert. There in silence and isolation they sought to overcome the forces of sin in themselves and even literally fought off the devil.
One of the most challenging passages in the Hebrew Scriptures is the story known in Hebrew as “The Akedah”, the binding of Isaac. Abraham waited until he was in his nineties to have God’s promise of a son with his wife, Sarah, fulfilled and he is asked by God to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. Why in the world would God do this? The God of Abraham had given no indication that He was like many of the other deities around Him who needed to be appeased by human sacrifice. In fact, up until now, the relationship which Abraham had with God has been intensely personal. God spoke to Abraham, unlike those idols of wood or stone, which were incapable of giving, even the slightest indication, that they heard the prayers that the people offered to them.