Reflecting on Genesis 22, 1-2,9a, 10-13,15-18
I wonder how many listeners of this terrifying story of the sacrifice of Isaac will say today, “I’d choose hell rather than slay my child in order to ‘do God’s will.’”
And those schizophrenic people who have killed their children because they “heard God’s voice” are now confined in mental institutions.
We search for a loving God here, and, truth be told, a loving Abraham too. Because if we were Isaac, about to be strapped on the altar of sacrifice because our father was “obedient”, I think we’d say Who wants a father like that?
Of course, the story was written to address the horrific practice of child sacrifice in ancient Canaan, where the murder of male children was common in order to appease the indifferent gods of harvest. The biblical story says to the minority Hebrews, “See? God never desires the murder of children.”
Second, it was easy for the earliest Christians to see Isaac as a “type” of Jesus himself, carrying the wood of the sacrifice (the Cross) up Mt. Moriah (later identified as Jerusalem). God tells Abraham that God alone will provide the sacrifice, and we see in this story a prefigure of Jesus, the Lamb of God.
Finally, this ancient story can touch us as we offer back to God what we have cherished and lost in our lives−−our parents, our loves, our health. God asks, Can you trust me to restore them all to you? Can you “reason that (I) am able to raise even from the dead” (Heb. 11:17)?
What loves have you entrusted to God?
What would YOU like to say about this question, or today’s readings, or any of the columns from the past year? The sacred conversations are setting a Pentecost fire! Register here today and join the conversation.
I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).