Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Saints)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the words of the Scripture in which we heard of the moment when Abraham was asked by God to give his son Isaac to be sacrificed to Him on Mount Moria. And then in the Gospel passage today, we heard of the Lord Jesus healing a paralysed man only to be criticised upon by the teachers of the Law, which made the Lord to rebuke them for what they have done.
In our first reading passage today, we heard about the sacrifice of Isaac which God requested of Abraham, and this, if we do not understand God’s true intention and context, would have been very disturbing and difficult to accept. At that time, it was common in fact for deities and gods, the pagan idols to be offered sacrificial offerings, including even human sacrifices. It would therefore not be totally out of place for God to have requested such a thing from Abraham.
However, this request came after God has promised Abraham that his descendants through Isaac would be numerous like the stars and the grains of sand, and how they would become great nations on earth. God specifically also mentioned to Abraham earlier on that His promise and grace did not extend through his other son, Ishmael, but through Isaac only. Imagine what kind of thoughts and ruminations that went through in the mind of Abraham as he heard the Lord’s commands.
Yet, despite that, he obeyed without reservation, trusting completely in God’s will. Abraham obediently and faithfully brought Isaac to Mount Moria where he thought of offering him as a sacrifice to God. He must have been sad and filled with questions in his heart, but his love and obedience for God never changed. He followed through God’s plan and for that, he was blessed by God Who used the opportunity to see the faith which Abraham had for Him.
In today’s Gospel passage, we then heard of the Lord Jesus healing the paralysed man and the teachers of the Law immediately commented on when He forgave the paralysed man from his sins and made him whole again. We ought to look into this occasion and contrast it with what we have heard in our first reading today, regarding Abraham and his faith. While Abraham was faithful and trusted in God despite probably having some doubts, he committed himself regardless, but the teachers of the Law immediately went to criticise the Lord.
That is what happened when there is a lack of faith in our hearts, as the teachers of the Law were very knowledgeable about the details and the particulars of the customs and rules applied by the Law, and yet they failed to understand the meaning and purpose behind those laws, which in truth were given to us mankind by God so that the Law may become a guiding light for us to follow, that we do not fall into error.
Instead, they focused on the wrong aspect and approach, becoming preoccupied with the technicalities and the prescriptions of the Law rather than understanding its true nature and purpose of use. That is where they were not like Abraham, who knew God’s will truly in his heart, and devoted himself completely to Him, with the only desire to serve Him and to love Him with all of his strength and abilities.
Today, we also celebrate the feast of another holy servant of God, that is of St. Elizabeth of Portugal. St. Elizabeth of Portugal was married to the King of Portugal and therefore is a rightful Queen of Portugal, and even though she was born into nobility and richness and power, but she remained humble, devout and upright in her living. In time, her examples and influence managed to convert even her husband, the king, who had been leading a sinful life until then.
St. Elizabeth of Portugal showed many other courageous displays of faith, and after her husband passed away, she retired into a monastery where she continued to serve the Lord through prayer and service. She was instrumental in peacemaking when conflict was almost inevitable between that of her son, the then king of Portugal and the king of the neighbouring kingdom of Castile.
In St. Elizabeth of Portugal and Abraham, we can see the genuine faith of those who have given their lives to God and entrusted themselves to Him, knowing His will and His ways. Are we able to follow in their footsteps as well? Or are we more like the teachers of the Law who are just concerned about fulfilling our obligations to God and not truly loving Him and trusting in His will?
Let us all draw ever closer to God from now on, and find ways for us to dedicate ourselves ever more to Him. May He continue to guide us throughout our journey, now and forevermore. Amen.