February 25, 2nd Sunday of Lent, Sacrifice: a Sunday Scriptures blog

A priest friend told me that one day a woman asked to see him because, she said, she had lost her faith. It happened, she explained, when she read Dan Brown’s book The Davinci Code, so now she knew that the Church was evil. “Where did you get the book?” the priest asked.

“In the library,” she said.

“Where in the library?”

“In the fiction section,” she said.

You can imagine the rest of their conversation! “God put Abraham to the test,” begins our Hebrew Scripture reading this Sunday, in one of the most difficult Scripture readings to hear. In this graphic account, Abraham is instructed by God to offer his only son Isaac as a burnt offering (holocaust). To understand this passage from Genesis correctly, we need to keep firmly in mind that we are reading a story, a “biblical narrative.” All of Genesis, really, is written in this narrative form of stories that teach foundational religious ideas. Today’s story about Abraham’s obedience to God is a story about the relationship between God and humanity. It’s a story about faithfulness to that relationship. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham, which means “ancestor of a multitude,” the Hebrews. Throughout their biblical history, their off-and-on faithfulness to the love covenant freely offered by God is told. So this Scripture is not a story about a God who tests us. It is a story about the sacrifice needed to be faithful to covenants that bind us into relationships. Relationships will always test us — not only the relationships we think of first, like marriage and parenting, but relationships we have with our Church, with our nation (which sometimes does ask for our lives), with friends and with God. Sacrificing for relationships is difficult in our culture, which idealizes, and even idolizes, the individual and individual wants and needs. During Lent we are invited to reflect on the part sacrifice plays in all our relationships. Being human images of God means sacrifice — as Jesus so well showed us.

— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia

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