God put Abraham to the test. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he called. ‘Here I am’ he replied. ‘Take your son,’ God said ‘your only child Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him as a burnt offering, on a mountain I will point out to you.’
Rising early next morning Abraham saddled his ass and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and started on his journey to the place God had pointed out to him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. Then Abraham said to his servants, ‘Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I will go over there; we will worship and come back to you.’
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering, loaded it on Isaac, and carried in his own hands the fire and the knife. Then the two of them set out together. Isaac spoke to his father Abraham, ‘Father’ he said. ‘Yes, my son’ he replied. ‘Look,’ he said ‘here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Abraham answered, ‘My son, God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.’ Then the two of them went on together.
When they arrived at the place God had pointed out to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son Isaac and put him on the altar on top of the wood. Abraham stretched out his hand and seized the knife to kill his son.
But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven. ‘Abraham, Abraham’ he said. ‘I am here’ he replied. ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’ the angel said. ‘Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your son, your only son.’ Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt-offering in place of his son. Abraham called this place ‘The Lord Provides’, and hence the saying today: On the mountain the Lord provides.
The angel of the Lord called Abraham a second time from heaven. ‘I swear by my own self – it is the Lord who speaks – because you have done this, because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you, I will make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies. All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, as a reward for your obedience.’
Abraham went back to his servants, and together they set out for Beersheba, and he settled in Beersheba.
Jesus got in the boat, crossed the water and came to his own town. Then some people appeared, bringing him a paralytic stretched out on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven.’ And at this some scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ Knowing what was in their minds Jesus said, ‘Why do you have such wicked thoughts in your hearts? Now, which of these is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”? But to prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,’ – he said to the paralytic – ‘get up, and pick up your bed and go off home.’ And the man got up and went home. A feeling of awe came over the crowd when they saw this, and they praised God for giving such power to men.
for now I know you fear God
In today’s first reading, God tests Abraham by asking Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac. Yet God could not bear to see Abraham sacrifice his one and only son for Him. Because he knew how much Abraham loved the boy.
Today’s first reading got me thinking about a conversation I had recently with a dear friend. She was sharing with me, over tea, about her journey finding God. A successful professional, she used to spend all her energies on pursuing her career. Even though she was a Catholic, work would always come first and mass was always relegated to a Sunday obligation, as and when she was free. When it came to finding a partner, the stature and finances of a person was always important to her.
Then, she met her husband – a man who led her closer into the Catholic faith. Although he was not as financially successful as the men she used to date, he was different substantively. It marked her journey back to God. Despite the challenges that they faced, he never stopped encouraging her to believe in the faithfulness of God. It came to a point when my friend felt that maybe the challenges they had to endure were tests and lessons for her in faith. She cited her pregnancy as an example. They had been trying for a child the past year but to no avail. She was about to lose hope when she discovered by chance about a week ago that she was pregnant! On hindsight, it dawned on her that if God had blessed her with a child about a year ago, when her desire was the strongest, she might not have been ready for it, financially or otherwise.
Hearing my friend’s conversion inspired me. What struck me the most was the next thing that she said. “It takes time for God to call us back”, she says. “And He will do it, each in our own time. All the things that happen to us in life are like a test – a test of our faith in God.”
I pray that like Abraham and my friend, I may have the grace to enter into a deeper relationship with God through every testing. I also pray for the wisdom to see him in every circumstance of my life and to realize through every test that he is ultimately my source of true joy.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Cassandra Cheong)
Prayer: Dear Father, we pray for the grace to embrace your tests in our lives. Nurture us with greater faith through them.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Father for blessing us with your grace through every challege in our lives. May we never fail to thank and praise you.