How willing am I to offer what is most precious, for the Lord's sake?
In the first reading at Mass this Sunday, the Lord asks the unthinkable from Abraham – sacrifice your son to me. We don't hear much about the conversation on the way up to Moriah, but we are led to believe that Isaac was fairly ignorant of what was going on.
What anguish Abraham must have had at this request! As they carried the firewood to the altar of sacrifice, did he question to himself why the Lord would take away his firstborn? Did he consider refusing? Was his faith in the goodness of God diminished as he approached the spot where his son was to die by his own hand?
When the reached the spot, recall that Isaac – upon realizing what was going to happen – did not refuse or rebel. On one hand this may have been consoling to Abraham, on the other hand, all the harder to carry out God's command at seeing the goodness of his own son.
The Lord shows His hand at the end, waiting until the moment at which Abraham was committed, bringing the knife to bear on his son. At that, He reveals that this was the test of his faith, provides a ram for sacrifice, and makes a covenant with Abraham that is beyond imagining.
We anticipate the celebration of the day when another firstborn son – rather than being substituted for a ram or sheep – was sacrificed. We know that His father, through sharing the pain and suffering of His son, did not question or consider refusing. Because God is so good, He offered His only son for our behalf. From that sacrifice, a new covenant was made that replaces all others. Let us continue on in Lent, trusting that the Lord will not stretch us beyond our ability, but support us throughout.