Today in our first reading from Genesis 22, we see Abraham put to the test by God. Could it be the ultimate test? I think so, and I’ll tell you why in a moment. In the Gospel reading from Matthew 9, we see the story Jesus healing a paralytic. But more than just healing him physically, Jesus tells him, “Your sins are forgiven.” The scribes thought that Jesus was blaspheming. So Jesus tells them that He has authority on earth to forgive sins.
The first line of today’s first reading is really something of an understatement. “God put Abraham to the test.” God told Abraham that He wanted him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Abraham must have been very puzzled and sad. Why would God ask this? After all, He had just given Abraham this wonderful boy which God himself had promised. Many people think that giving up our own lives is the ultimate sacrifice. But I think that God took it even further with Abraham. As a parent, I would do anything to protect my children (and grandchildren). This includes, I hope, giving up my own life to save theirs. So for Abraham, this truly was the ultimate test.
And so it was for God. The story of Abraham and Isaac is really a foreshadowing of the story of the Father giving up His only Son. Imagine the pain of watching your only son die. Certainly God the Father was not exempt from this pain. I think it would be much easier to give up my own life than to watch one of my children die a horrible death. But our Father didn’t take the easy way out. He could have saved the world with a word. But He chose to show us His amazing love by giving up His Son.
Father, your servant Abraham passed the ultimate test. Give us the grace and strength to pass whenever we are tested, as you did by giving up your Son Jesus for us. Amen.