Opening the Word: A response of faith

By:

This Sunday’s readings are all rooted in the story of Abraham. In Chapters 12-22 of Genesis, Abraham is presented as a man of great faith, the golden thread of the readings this Sunday. Abraham’s faith transformed him into the patriarch of Israel, and his name, Abraham, or Avrahim, means “father of multitudes.”

When we first meet Abraham in Genesis, he is still called Abram, and God has yet to call upon him to become Avrahim. Seemingly out of the blue, God called Abraham, asking him to pick up and leave his family and his home and move to a new land. Now, this takes some guts — to get up and follow a God one hardly even knows. But this was the beginning of Abraham’s faith. It was the beginning of his relationship with God, which grew and grew. Faith was the substance of this relationship, and only in faith could it flourish.

This process of growth in relationship with God was not easy. Abraham had to learn a whole new way of life: God’s way. This way would make Abraham and his descendants distinct from all the nations surrounding them. Through Abraham’s faith, God would make his way known to all the nations. We are even hearing about it now!

As Abraham grew in relationship with God, he came to know the gratuitousness of God’s way, and how this gratuitousness is naturally marked by sacrifice.

For example, and as referenced in our readings, Abraham was asked by God to offer his son, Isaac, “whom he loved,” as a “burnt offering” to God (cf. Gn 22). This is a difficult story! We do not believe in a God who asks such things of us! Or do we?

The story of Abraham and Isaac is told only after we have been given the story of Isaac’s miraculous birth. Sarah had been barren her whole life and was now 90 years old. But God had promised Isaac a son — that he would no longer be Abram but become Abraham, or Avrahim. And Abraham had faith in this promise, in the gratuitous nature of God’s way.

Thus the difficulty of the story lies in understanding what sacrificial love is. Abraham was not asked to offer his son as a literal burnt offering but as a sacrifice, whole and entire, to God. Abraham, as the father of faith, was asked to hand this faith on to his son, Isaac.

And he was asked! Our English translation loses an important Hebrew word: “please.” When God asks Abraham to offer Isaac, his miraculous and beloved son, he says, “please.”

Faith is a free choice. God offers himself to us, and we respond. The relationship is entirely gratuitous and sacrificial. It is wholehearted, in response to the whole of God.

When Abraham offers Isaac up to God’s way, he is also offering himself. He had just become Abraham, the father of a “beloved son” in his old age, the father of a son whom he needed to himself be the “father of multitudes.” In offering Isaac, Abraham also offers himself, whole and entire, to God and his way.

In this, Abraham is our patriarch. We are the “sands on the sea shore,” the “multitude.” But our faith has something new, something Abraham only saw foreshadowed “in secret.” We have the Beloved Son. We have God offering himself to us, whole and entire. We have but to respond in faith, and so to offer ourselves, whole and entire, to be transformed by God’s cruciform yet gratuitous way.

August 7 – 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wis 18:6-9
Ps 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22
Heb 11:1-2, 8-19
Lk 12:32-48

 

This article comes to you from Our Sunday Visitor courtesy of your parish or diocese.

 

Catholic News & Perspective

Provides information on the Church, the nation and the world from OSV, America's most popular and trusted national Catholic news source


Recent

Opening the Word: A response of faith

Friday, August 5, 2022
By: Catherine Cavadini This Sunday’s readings are all rooted in the story of Abraham. In Chapters 12-22 of Genesis, Abraham is presented as a... Read More

When God opens doors

Wednesday, August 3, 2022
By: Scott P. Richert When a door opens before you, do you walk through? I’m not talking about metaphorical doors, but actual physical doors.... Read More

Catholics rally in support of Michigan pro-life center after vandalism

Monday, August 1, 2022
By: Karla Dorweiler When Mary Wilkerson drove past offensive signs in the front yard of a home in late June, she was angry. Not just because her... Read More

Opening the Word: Are we the rich fool?

Friday, July 29, 2022
By: Father Joshua J. Whitfield Someone — we don’t know who — shouts to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the... Read More

Longtime youth minister offers suggestions to get teens excited about Mass

Wednesday, July 27, 2022
By: Mark Hart My cradle Catholic parents instilled in me the importance of going to Mass religiously (no pun intended) but were never able to... Read More

Finding the sacred in the secular as a Catholic

Monday, July 25, 2022
By: Ava Lalor Before we were even engaged, my fiancé and I already had a few details planned for our wedding Mass, including most of our... Read More

Opening the Word: Our daily bread

Friday, July 22, 2022
By: Catherine Cavadini “Lord, teach us to pray…” This week the Gospel of Luke teaches us about prayer, echoing the Our Father as... Read More

We need to love the walking wounded

Wednesday, July 20, 2022
By: Kathryn Jean Lopez The fall of Roe v. Wade has brought with it an unleashing of demons. Arson attacks on churches —... Read More

The story of Helen Keller and the sanctity of life

Monday, July 18, 2022
By: Msgr. Owen F. Campion Many decades ago, a great American heroine was Helen Keller, an author and thinker. She was born in 1880 in Tuscumbia,... Read More

Opening the Word: Martha, Mary and ‘the better part’

Friday, July 15, 2022
By: Father Joshua J. Whitfield Jesus is making his way to Jerusalem. As he makes his way, he’s being tested; he’s also teaching. How... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!