OT: Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13,15-18
Epistle: Romans 8:31-34
Gospel: Mark 9:2-10
Abraham and Sarah had waited so long without a child. Their gift, Isaac, had grown strong. The walk up Mt. Moriah must have been so painful for Abraham, who knew how it would end if he was obedient to God’s will. Abraham was obedient to God, following the awful instructions to take his only son up the mountain for a holocaust, a sacrificial offering from a sinful people to Yahweh. The boy was growing into a young man, able to carry wood up the mountain and still have energy to converse with the father he loved so much. A strong boy like Isaac would have little difficulty preventing an old man like Abraham from binding him. The son acceded to his father’s wishes even to the point of helping to prepare the sacrifice: himself.
The knife must have been like a heavy weight in Abraham’s hand as he lifted it to kill his son. What agony he must have experienced, obeying the commandments of God yet not fully comprehending them. We can imagine the turmoil in his mind. Take my only son up the mountain and kill him? Where is God’s glory in that? How can that be consistent with the promises God made to me about the number of my descendants? This is the child God sent me, yet he wants him to die. This makes no sense to me.
It made no sense to Abraham, yet he found the strength to be obedient to God’s will. At the moment of truth, Abraham demonstrated he would pay the full price of discipleship and God stayed his hand.
God sent his son at the fullness of time. The world had waited so long for him. He grew into a strong man and powerful teacher and healer. God will do what he would not ask of Abraham: sacrifice his only son. This is not just a good and powerful man. This is not just somebody’s son. This is God’s own son.
Jesus carried the means of his execution to the place of his execution, just like Isaac. Jesus knew the nature of his execution. He had spent hours in the Garden of Gesthemane, his stress level so high he was in a bloody sweat. He knew that Abraham’s words were true. God would provide the lamb for the holocaust. God was the Lamb.
Lent is a time of preparation. St. Mark tells us Peter, James, and John kept the transfiguration to themselves, “questioning what rising what rising from the dead meant.” We know what it means, yet we, like they, run from the Cross on Calvary rather than stay in peace as Mary and the women and young John stayed. Let us prepare ourselves so as to be able to stay with Jesus when we find ourselves on Calvary.