Abraham and Isaac Point to Another Sacrifice

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

Last week we heard God call Abram out of his homeland to a different future. He had to turn his back on his past, his heritage. He also had to forgo the realities of his present existence, his life with his extended family. He did all of this because God promised him a different kind of future. Imagine how horrified Abraham must have been when God called upon him to sacrifice his son. Not only was the boy a promise of remembrance in future generations, he was the fulfillment of God's promise to him and Sarah. Now God was asking him to sacrifice his son, something that Abraham thought he had left behind. This was not the future he had imagined.

However, because of his faith in God, he did as God asked and prepared to offer his son as a human sacrifice. God stopped him at the last minute. It had been a test to ascertain the Abraham's commitment to that faith.

This story is an example of what scholars call "proleptic" Scripture. It looks ahead to a future reality. The God who ultimately did not demand the sacrifice of Abraham's son willingly gave His Son, sacrificed His Son for the sake of our sins. This human/divine sacrifice put an end to all such sacrifices. Nothing could be added to it to make it more efficacious. Jesus' sacrifice is the ultimate gift of forgiveness. We are redeemed. Jesus has atoned for our sins. In Jesus, we gain the gift of reconciliation.

The story of Abraham and Isaac also provides us with the basis for our belief that we are saved by faith. The story demonstrates that Abraham gained life for his son by his willingness to obey God's command, by his faith. We, too, are saved by faith. Our response to God's willingness to sacrifice His Son can only be to bond with the sacrifice of Jesus by offering our own aches and pains, our own frustrations and discouragement, in union with the crucified Savior.

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