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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Genesis 22, 1-19

It happened some time later that God put Abraham to the test. 'Abraham, Abraham!' he called. 'Here I am,' he replied.

God said, 'Take your son, your only son, your beloved Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, where you are to offer him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I shall point out to you.'

Early next morning Abraham saddled his donkey and took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. He chopped wood for the burnt offering and started on his journey to the place which God had indicated to him.

On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.

Then Abraham said to his servants, 'Stay here with the donkey. The boy and I are going over there; we shall worship and then come back to you.'

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering, loaded it on Isaac, and carried in his own hands the fire and the knife. Then the two of them set out together.

Isaac spoke to his father Abraham. 'Father?' he said. 'Yes, my son,' he replied. 'Look,' he said, 'here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?'

Abraham replied, 'My son, God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.' And the two of them went on together.

When they arrived at the place which God had indicated to him, Abraham built an altar there, and arranged the wood. Then he bound his son and put him on the altar on top of the wood.

Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to kill his son.

But the angel of Yahweh called to him from heaven. 'Abraham, Abraham!' he said. 'Here I am,' he replied.

'Do not raise your hand against the boy,' the angel said. 'Do not harm him, for now I know you fear God. You have not refused me your own beloved son.'

Then looking up, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns in a bush. Abraham took the ram and offered it as a burnt offering in place of his son.

Abraham called this place 'Yahweh provides', and hence the saying today: 'On the mountain Yahweh provides.'

The angel of Yahweh called Abraham a second time from heaven.

'I swear by my own self, Yahweh declares, that because you have done this, because you have not refused me your own beloved son,

I will shower blessings on you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will gain possession of the gates of their enemies.

All nations on earth will bless themselves by your descendants, because you have obeyed my command.'

Abraham went back to his servants, and together they set out for Beersheba, and Abraham settled in Beersheba.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

God once again calls Abraham by name, as he calls Moses on mount Horeb while he is tending his father-in-law’s sheep and Samuel after he had gone to sleep in the temple (1 Sam 3). Their “here I am” is the prompt reply of a person of faith who listens, does not stop to consider what is possible for him or what he can do, and does not insist that God give him all the answers right away. Abraham does not subordinate his answer to his will. Often we stop at the limits of what we think is fair, and if God’s request is not convenient or does not convince us, we do not even take it into consideration. Abraham obeys. He is truly a believer, even when he cannot understand God’s requests. He trusts, without conditions or reservations. His trust is founded on listening: he knows his weakness and he knows God’s greatness. This is why the angel says that he “fears” God. When we lose this fear, we feel we have the right to possess everything. He is certain that the divine call will never be for death, because God has promised him an inheritance. We could say that Abraham does not take possession of God’s gift, but listens to what is asked of him and puts it into practice, without conditions. Faith is not in us; it is the result of God’s faithfulness to humanity. And even now that the Lord is asking him to sacrifice his son, Abraham obeys. We could say that his faith is truly limitless. But Abraham knows that God’s love is limitless, and he will never be abandoned. This is why - we can imagine what he was feeling in his heart - he responds, “Here I am.” Abraham does not choose to guide his life himself; he lets himself be led by the voice of God. And Isaac is given back to him. He is no longer just the son of his flesh; he is also the son of his faith. Abraham discovers that Isaac is his own because he did not want to possess him. Truly God always “provides” good things for those who trust in him.

Memory of the Church