This passage from Genesis chapter 22, is one of the most difficult for us to wrap our minds around, a father asked to sacrifice his son – his only son that was promised to him – to God. It must be seen in the context of faith (ours), which broadens us to understand how God could ask such a thing.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very helpful here:
145 The Letter to the Hebrews, in its great eulogy of the faith of Israel’s ancestors, lays special emphasis on Abraham’s faith: “By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go.” By faith, he lived as a stranger and pilgrim in the promised land. By faith, Sarah was given to conceive the son of the promise. And by faith Abraham offered his only son in sacrifice.
146 Abraham thus fulfils the definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”: “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Because he was “strong in his faith”, Abraham became the “father of all who believe”.
147 The Old Testament is rich in witnesses to this faith. The Letter to the Hebrews proclaims its eulogy of the exemplary faith of the ancestors who “received divine approval”. Yet “God had foreseen something better for us”: the grace of believing in his Son Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith”.
Abraham learned to live each moment of his life by faith. He was conditioned by his regular practice of listening (Latin: obedire) to God, which grew into trusting obedience to do whatever was asked of him. It was the test beyond all tests, to give up one’s greatest possession.
What is your greatest possession? Are you be willing to sacrifice it to God if he asks you to? Maybe not in terms of human sacrifice, but to ask yourself, what is the one thing that stands in the way of your perfect obedience to God?
Lord Jesus, thank you for your word that challenges to reconsider our fidelity, to listen to your word and to respond wholeheartedly. Amen.
May God bless you!