Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for March 12, 2006

I'm sorry that this is a couple days late!

Last week’s reading from the Book of Genesis told of the Covenant established between God and the human race after the flood. The rainbow in the clouds stands as an everlasting sign of God’s covenantal fidelity. Throughout the Old Testament God continued to draw close to His people by means of new and fuller Covenants; each of the Covenants, however, pails in comparison to what God has offered in the “New and Everlasting Covenant” in the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son.

Nevertheless, each of the Covenants from the Old Testament teach us some different aspect about God and His passionate and selfless love, not just for the Jewish people as recipients of these promises, but really for the whole human race. Each Covenant prepares mankind to accept the truth of the Incarnation (the Word made flesh) and to receive the promises of these “sacred family bonds” with God.

This week, the Covenant with Abraham is our focus. Even though God has already made a Covenant with Abraham, and sealed it with the sign of circumcision, He tests Abraham by requiring the sacrifice of Isaac, his beloved son – the son given to Abraham in the Covenant with God. Such a test bewilders us; why does God require such a thing? Hasn’t Abraham already left his family, his former ways; hasn’t he suffered enough? In the final analysis, though, we aren’t really in a position to judge God’s command or His methods. He gave Abraham sufficient grace to respond to this most overwhelming of tests – and He brought him to a deeper, utterly selfless faith that relies upon God for everything.

Just as the former Covenants reveal something about the New Covenant, they also in many ways “foreshadow” Christ’s own life. The Fathers of the Church were eager to see Christ in every verse of the Old Testament, and with good reason: both Testaments, Old and New, are a complete whole. St. Augustine teaches that Grace, “concealed in the Old Testament, is revealed in the New.” This does not mean that the Old Covenant actually “hid” grace from view, but that God’s actions must be understood in light of His definitive gift of His Son made man.

This often changes our perspective on the stories of the Old Testament. By reading today’s reading from Genesis according to this “typology,” we see Isaac and Abraham foreshadow Christ and His own Father. Isaac bears the wood for the sacrifice to the mountain where he is to be killed; likewise, Christ bears the wood of the Cross up Mount Calvary. The father is willing to sacrifice his son, and the son (many Fathers of the Church remarked) went willingly and obediently to his death. However, as if to shatter our preconceptions, God saves Isaac at the last moment – replacing him with, not a lamb, but a ram, caught by his head in a bush of thorns.

In the fulfillment of this foreshadowing, it is God the Father who offers His Son, the true Lamb, crowned with thorns – a willing sacrifice. But this sacrifice is offered by the Son Himself, who freely lays down His life, that we might live. In our Lenten penances, as we strive to repent of our sins and draw closer to Christ, this image is a powerful reminder of the cost of our salvation. As St. Paul then says in his letter to the Romans today, “He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” (Rom 8:32). We can have absolute trust and confidence in the Father’s love and mercy.

Have a blessed and happy St. Patrick’s day; and may God bless you and your Lenten penances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving with abundant grace!