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from fathers desk

Dear Parish Family,

Our journey this Lent traverses the great covenants of the Lord with his people. We are exploring the faithfulness of God: “The Lord remembers his covenants forever!” At the same time, we acknowledge that humanity has not always been faithful to guarding the covenants they have cut with the Lord. Remember, we cut covenants, and then we guard/keep or break covenants. Those are the verbs used in Hebrew. Covenants make a kinship bond between two people (or groups) who then become as family. “You are our God and we are your people,” is one formulation of this exchange.

Today on our journey we meet up with Abraham and Isaac  as the Lord asks a father to sacrifice his son, perhaps the ultimate test of fidelity. Abraham has travelled a great distance with the Lord. The account begins in Genesis 12  when God took Abram and Sarai from the land of Ur (modern-day Iraq) all the way down to Egypt and then back to Mamre (modern-day Palestine), and many other places along the way. Childlessness is the great anguish of Abram and Sarai. Despite their wealth in livestock and possessions, they have not been blessed with children. And yet, the Lord God has promised Abraham, on more than one occasion that he will be the father of nations.

Not being able to have children can be a great hardship for couples. We should acknowledge the longing for children and all that goes into being a mother or father: teaching, playing, guiding, loving. Moreover, many couples endure this cross and often in silence. It can be a sort of hidden cross and sometimes even a shame that afflicts couples, for many reasons. Sarah is so beyond hope that when she hears the visitors announcing that they will conceive, she laughs out loud (Gn 18:12-15) but then later tries to deny! These moments in the scriptures are so human and real.

If we follow Abraham and Sarah on their walk with the Lord, we find many tests of fidelity. The Lord God does not immediately act. As we study the text, one question that may arise is: “When is the Lord going to fulfill his promise to Abraham?!” Years are passing; both are older to begin with. It seems like time is running out. And finally when a son is given him, Isaac from Sarah, God asks Abraham to sacrifice him (Gn 22:1-2) and without hesitation, Abraham obeys. His fidelity is exemplary, so he is known as “our father in faith.” He is a man of faith and trust in God. Abraham places what is most precious to him into the hands of God. He is ready to hand him over.

Spend some time with these texts. Pray over these powerful moments in salvation history. They call us to ourselves: “What are my tests of fidelity? In what area(s) of my life is God inviting me to show greater faithfulness to his promise? It could be one of our close relationships, at work, a habit or even a hobby. Often when we want to “go our own way” or when we “know what’s best” it is a sign that we may be kicking against the goad of Providence. Abraham and Sarah offer us a beautiful example of a couple who do not insist that they know what’s best, but who entrust their lives and well-being to the one true God. In what area of your life is God inviting you to deeper trust?

Yours in Christ!
Fr. Wilson