“[The angel of the Lord] said: ‘Do not raise your hand against the boy’”

Genesis 22:12

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Genesis 22:9-18; Psalm 98:1-6; Matthew 5:20-26

Sometimes in the history of religions a sea change occurs. The story of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of his son Isaac illustrates, some biblical scholars tell us, one such great event: the rejection of human sacrifice by the Israelites. This reflects a change in a religious community’s understanding of God, of what God wants.

We do not really know the background to this change in perception, how, why or even when it happened. (I say the latter because we know that Genesis is a later book written in the Hebrew Bible, even if it is located at the first book in the biblical sequence). We can only speculate that somewhere in their history, the Israelites realised that such demands for human sacrifice did not fit into the God they encountered in their lives.

This is important for us today.

It is important because it reminds us that our understanding of God and what God wants of us can change. As thinking believers (and here I would not limit this to the Judeo-Christian traditions) I think one of the greatest challenges is to constantly discern who God is and what God wants. We do this not (normally!) through some dramatic encounter with God, but through constantly seeking to find God’s will in our daily lives. Faith must be in dialogue with our lives, the best insights of science, and a prudent reflection on the world around us.

Loving God

May your Spirit guide us in discerning what is eternal And what is passing; what is your will and what is our perception, Even what is our prejudice at times. Strengthen our resolve to discern what is of You And what is of us. Through Christ our Lord


Fr Anthony Egan SJ

Fr Anthony Egan SJ (born Cape Town 1966; entered the Jesuits 1990; ordained 2002) has taught, full-time or part-time, at St Augustine College of South Africa, St John Vianney Seminary, Fordham University (on sabbatical) and the University of the Witwatersrand. The author/co-author of a number of books, book chapters, academic and popular articles, he is a correspondent for America magazine, a contributor to Worldwide and writes for spotlight.africa. He is also a commentator on local and international radio and television. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation. Extramural interests include Science Fiction, Theatre, Art and creative writing, including poetry.

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