5th Thursday of Lent
Genesis 17: 3 – 9; Ps 105; John 8: 51 – 59
In the Eucharistic Prayer for today Mass, we hear this addressed to the Lord: “Be pleased to look upon these offerings … and to accept them as You were once pleased to accept…the sacrifice of Abraham, our father in faith…” We might be tempted to think of Abraham’s sacrifice as that of his only son Isaac, a sacrifice halted at the last minute. The reality is that Abraham’s whole life was sacrifice, an immolation of his will to the voice of God, the God of covenant.
The first words of the reading from Genesis present an icon, a teaching from our father in faith: “When Abram prostrated himself, God spoke to him” and as we heard God reveals and details His covenant with this man who has literally given up everything – his homeland, his security, his people, his future – he places all into God’s hands.
His prostration – face to the ground – reveals his radical, humble obedience his full trust in God and God, in turn, reveals His divine, loving, radical design for this man and his descendants. He is truly our father in faith, a faith of listening which he lived, an obedience he struggled with and finally, brought him into eternal life.
In Hebrews, we hear “Jesus learned obedience from what He suffered” – in the mystery of the Incarnation He learned from the experiences of His life. As true God and true Man, Jesus has three fathers from who He learned. There was Joseph – His foster father, a man who listened and obeyed. There was Abraham whose blood flowed in Jesus’ veins and whose faithful obedience filled His heart and of course, there is God the Father and of this sacred and eternal relationship, Jesus reveals, “I can only do what I see the Father doing and only say what I hear Him saying.”
We experience the presence of the listening and obedient Lord Jesus in prayer, in lectio, in the Most Holy Eucharist, surely He graces us with His listening heart and His willing spirit – how else can we be men and women of faith, sons and daughters of Abraham, our father in faith? Of course, this demands an openness on our part, a desire without which faith is only a word – not a sacred, life-giving relationship in Christ – which is, in reality, covenant and Eternal Life begun.