Friday, March 2, 2012

Second Sunday of Lent, B: He who would not withhold his only Son

The Sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah
Sometimes the selection of readings for our Sunday worship at Mass does not give us the whole story.  In our excerpt from Genesis we hear of the father of the monotheistic faith, the Patriarch Abraham bringing his son to sacrifice to God.  What is missing from Gen 22: 3-8 is the willingness of Isaac to go along with this plan in perfect obedience to his father.  When asked by his son what will be sacrificed, Abraham says to Isaac that God will provide it.

You may know that human sacrifice abhors God.  Created in His image and likeness, this is an unthinkable sin.  It is made even the more abhorrent by the pagans of Abraham's day who made this a regular part of their sad religious rituals, some of which occurred in close proximity to Mount Moriah, perhaps even on the very spot that Abraham and Isaac came to.

What happens is that God spares Isaac and provides a ram for sacrifice.  The ram is caught in the thicket, a thorn bush which wraps  around the head capturing his horns.  This is a profound parallel to the Crown of Thorns.

God (YHWH) will not allow man (Abraham) to participate in human sacrifice.  But God allows his Son Jesus to be sacrificed for the redemption of mankind.  It is a profound action of an all merciful God providing himself to us as an expiation of sin, as the perfect remedy for the Fall of Adam and Eve.

Of course Jesus consents to this in the Garden of Gesthemane.  God who is Trinitarian is in perfect harmony.  In the Gospel, God teaches us that he will spare nothing to allow for our redemption. Paul highlights this in his letter to the Romans.  It is an amazing gesture, one that cannot be captured with words.

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