Fr. Francis Scaria
In the life of everyone, I believe, there are times when he or she whispers, “this is too much for me to bear”. Jesus on the cross also experienced something similar when he cried out , “Eli, Eli lema sabachthani”, My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46) This is the moment when God demands the highest level of obedience and submission. It is a moment when the Lord reveals to us the extent of commitment he demands from us.
Abraham went through such a moment when the Lord said to him, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you” (Gen 22:2). It is intriguing to note that the Lord is very clear about the specifics. He specifies even the place and the kind of offering he demanded. Abraham was familiar with God who demanded a great deal of sacrifice from those whom He dearly loved. At the very outset of his vocation, God had disturbed the comfort zone of his life, as He said, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1). A series of demands which began from there ended with the demand to sacrifice his own beloved son. Probably Abraham too uttered those words which we too utter at times, “This is too much for me to bear”. Yet he made a conscious decision to obey and to submit. Such an obedient submission after the model of that of Jesus’ self-emptying outlined in Phil 2:5-11 made Abraham our Father in Faith.
I was a bit disturbed by a recent event of the death of a saintly lady. She had a son and two daughters. The son became a priest in a mission away from home. Both the daughters too courageously listened to the call of Jesus like Abraham to ‘come away’. Even more courageous was the mother who prompted all three of them like Eli the priest who guided the little Samuel to walk on the path of the Lord, knowing fully well that it would mean to give up the care and protection they would offer her in her own old age. The saintly mother saw that her children had learned somewhat to walk in the foot-steps of the Lord and she began to experience the satisfaction of having done what the Lord had called her to do - probably a vocation nobler than those received by her children. Her husband passed away just a few months ago, an event which she faithfully and courageously bore witness to. Now the Lord called her too to himself seemingly saying to her, “you have fought the good fight, you have finished the race, you have kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7). I would like you to take note of the phrase “you have kept the faith”. Does it not indicate that the challenge of a vocation can be very demanding even to the extend of risking or questioning one’s faith? We are all witnesses to many events that loudly proclaim the fact that such a possibility is so real.
No doubt for the son and the daughters, she was probably the last part of their “own country” and their “own people” in the Abrahamic terminology. A painful moment at which each one of them probably whispered, “this is too much for me to bear”. Yet this is the way Abraham’s God, whom Jesus referred to as the God of the living not of the dead (Mk 12:27), acts. This is how Jesus’ God acts. They struggled and struggled; then surrendered in obedient submission. That act of submission is worth all the preachings of a dozen preachers.
When Abraham surrendered, the result was ensuring a land flowing with milk and honey for all his descendants. Greater the love, greater the sacrifice. Greater the sacrifice, greater the reward. The Lord wants us to cut ourselves away even from the last string that binds us to the tent of this world to be able to move to the everlasting world. The lamp is put off, because the dawn has come.
MUSINGS : 1-25,