This article was originally published as part of Ad Cenam Agni, a 2023 virtual Lenten Retreat hosted by the Abbot's Circle.
Lectio: Genesis 22
Every practicing Catholic hears the holy Bible proclaimed at Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation. This makes God’s sacred Scripture already more familiar to us than we might realize; although we cannot cite chapter & verse, we do in fact have many passages nearly memorized! The Norbertine canons at St. Michael’s Abbey are blessed even with daily Mass, just a short walk downstairs and across the cloister garden, making the living Word of God a great part of our regular life.
Now, the “Word of God” also means Christ Jesus, our Savior, and so we must learn to discern our Savior’s presence on every page of Scripture, from beginning to end, the Old Testament and the New. This discernment depends on faith in the literal truth of Scripture according to the mind of the Church. As the fathers of Vatican II put it, “God chose men… [who] consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted…. Everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error….” (Dei Verbum 11). These are not just edifying stories, but the solid, really historical foundation through which God prepared and worked out our salvation!
Read the account of Abraham’s test. It truly happened that this holy father consented to offer his beloved son in sacrifice. That the son, by this time a young man, carried the wood on which he was to be offered up a small mountain, and chose not to resist his elderly father. That God himself provided another sacrifice, and promised that from Abraham’s line would come a blessing for the whole earth. All this really took place two thousand years before God provided the true sacrifice, the lamb of God, descendant of Abraham, willingly offered on the wood of the cross on mount Calvary for the salvation of the entire world! Thanks be to the most holy Trinity, who makes that one sacrifice present for us at every holy Mass.