A Lenten Renewal:
Reflections on the Mass readings in light of our daily lives
By Mother Marie Julie, SCMC
My Dear Good People,
Pope Francis often talks about Passion. Here I’m not referring to the passion as the suffering and death of Jesus, but rather the word meaning great ardor or conviction, usually associated with love. One wonders what it would be like to live without a passion. What if there were nothing in my life that sets my heart on fire and keeps the fire burning? What if there were nothing in my life worth dying for?
In today’s first reading from chapter 22 of the Book of Genesis, God speaks face to face with Abraham. Abraham and his wife Sarah reached old age without a child, but God has finally blessed them with a son, Isaac. He has been the light of their lives, and now, in this shattering moment, God asks Abraham to give the boy back to Him by offering him as a burnt offering on the altar of sacrifice. (This reading leaves some parts out, so we would do well to take the time to read the entire chapter; the story is enough make a parent’s blood run cold.) Abraham journeys with the unsuspecting Isaac toward the top of Horeb, the Mountain of Sacrifice, carrying the wood, the fire and the knife. On the way young Isaac innocently asks, “Father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice?” Abraham answers, “God will provide the lamb, my son.” He ties the boy, lays him on the altar, and raises the knife to slaughter the child, the Scripture tells us. Abraham prepares to return his only son to the very God who had given him this precious gift some twelve years ago….
But that moment God reaches out and holds the old man’s arm. Do no harm to the child, God says, and Isaac is saved.
Praying with this heartbreaking encounter fills me with wondering. That night, back at the family tent, did Abraham lie awake asking questions? I imagine his inner conversation might have gone like this:
How did I ever think I could kill my own son? Why was I ready to do such a thing?
I did it because God asked me to. How did I say Yes to Him? Is it possible that I love Him that much? I know how much Isaac meant to me. But I’m only discovering now how much my God means to me.
I think, as I pray, that Abraham realized that night that God was his passion. For God, he was ready to give everything. From that night on, Abraham lived only for Him. We call him, still today, our Father in faith.
Let us ask ourselves, this Second Sunday in Lent, Is God my passion? What am I willing to do for Him Who has done so much for me?
And let us pray for one another that, perhaps not today but tomorrow, our answer will be, Everything.
Have a blessed week.