Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Sea of Galilee at Sunrise

Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Abraham, Model of Exceptional Faith

Mosque over the Cave of Patriarchs
Mount Moriah today

It’s been awhile since I’ve thought about Abraham, the great granddaddy of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. But as I prepare a talk on him, I’m renewing my acquaintance. Aspects of his life shed light on our own. If you recall, when Abraham was already 75 years old, the one and only true God told him to leave his land and relatives. Yet God didn’t reveal where he was to go. This command made no sense, but Abraham began walking. Talk about a leap of faith!  Abraham ended up in Hebron in Canaan, land which God gave to him. Sometimes, urged by an inner sense or sent by someone, we venture into a “new land.” This could be a new job, a new city, a new organization. We don’t have a clue what will happen. We just trust that God has our welfare at heart. Hebron is where Abraham and his wife Sarah are buried in the Cave of Patriarchs which is beneath a mosque today.

As the story goes, God promised Abraham as many descendants as the stars. Abraham and Sarah were childless and not getting any younger. They couldn’t wait for God but took matters into their own hands. Sarah gave Abraham her Egyptian slave Hagar as a wife, and they had a son, Ishmael. The, when Abraham was 99, God said that Sarah would bear a son, and, after laughing at the outrageous prediction, she did. A miracle! God still works miracles today‚ maybe for you.

Abraham’s tomb

But then the unthinkable happened. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah. (Muslims believe that Ishmael, supposedly the forefather of Mohammad, was to be sacrificed.) How could Abraham kill his one beloved son? Despite his excruciating grief, Abraham obeyed. How could Abraham possibly have thousands of descendants without a son? Despite the perplexing command, Abraham didn’t argue. He obeyed, blindly.  Scripture scholars point out that when Abraham left his two servants to take Isaac to the altar, he said, “We will worship, and then we will come back to you.” “We” implies that Abraham assumed that somehow Isaac would be spared. And he was. Inexplicable things happen to all of us. We cry out, “Why, God?” We wonder why our friend has cancer, why we lost our job, why our car was stolen, and why our boss doesn’t see things our way when it is so right. Would that our faith would be as unwavering as Abraham’s!

Today Mount Moriah is the site of the gold-domed mosque in Jerusalem. This site is also where the Holy of Holies of the Temple was and where Mohammed was taken up into heaven. Therefore, it is sacred to all three monotheistic religions: Christan, Jewish, and Muslim.

I had forgotten this: After Sarah died, Abraham married Keturah and had six more sons. But Isaac received the inheritance.) Abraham was indeed greatly blessed.

Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son. God actually did sacrifice his Son. And Jesus gave up a lot for our sake. What precious thing are you willing to give up if God would ask it?


4 Responses

  1. Hey Sister,

    Again, great question.

    I would like to think that what was ever asked of me, I would give. But let’s be honest, I don’t want to give up anything. In my mind, I’m comfortable. In fact, I want more.

    Could I do with less? Sure. I’m a simple man compared to most. But if God asked me to give up my family, would I? No. If He asked me to sacrifice my son, heck no. I am no Abraham.

    What would I give up? Probably something that would be equal to Cain’s offering. And God would know it.



  2. Thank you, Mark, for your thought-provoking comment. You are certainly honest! And I think most people would agree with you. Strangely my experience has been that when I’m actually in a position to “sacrifice,” some sort of grace kicks in and I can rise to the occasion.

  3. Hey Sister,

    I brought up your question at the men’s renewal group that I attend. I enjoyed the responses that were given.

    But, as ususal, the question lead to another question, why do you think God didn’t allow Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

    Of course I didn’t have the answer, but one of the brothers gave an insightful answer. At that time, human sacrifice was common. God, in a round about way, said to Abraham that act is not needed, a ram would do just fine. No need to sacrifice Isaac.



  4. I’m glad you could make use of my question, Mark. Yes, the answer your brother gave is the usual explanation. Nowadays we don’t sacrifice rams or goats or bulls anymore either. As the letter to the Hebrews explains, Christ’s sacrifice, which took away sin once and for all, replaced those other sacrifices.

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