In many ways we understand that as human beings we are limited in our ability to live as God desires us to live. Every day we are faced with temptations which, against our weaknesses, cause us to sin. We awake wanting to not sin, and sleep having asked for forgiveness for the sins we committed that day. Saint Paul expressed this well when he said, “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Romans 7.15)
Thankfully, God has accomplished what we were unable to accomplish. As we hear in today’s reading from Genesis, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his. Although Abraham was willing to obey, God did not force him to sacrifice his son. Instead, God sacrificed His own Son for us. This is what we are preparing for during Great Lent. God accomplishes what we are either unwilling or unable to accomplish.
He even fasted forty days and forty nights, so when you think the Great Fast is too difficult, remember Jesus Christ has already accomplished what we were unable to accomplish. The rest we can do if we want. We just need to find the desire to follow God, and Great Lent is meant to help us discover and perfect that desire to follow Jesus Christ. Hang in there; it’s almost over. Great Lent will be over in one week. Then we will celebrate the Saturday of Lazarus and Palm Sunday before beginning Holy Week.
Today’s Old Testament Readings:
Isaiah 45:11-17 (RSV) - Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: "Will you question me about my children, or command me concerning the work of my hands? I made the earth, and created man upon it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host. I have aroused him in righteousness, and I will make straight all his ways; he shall build my city and set my exiles free, not for price or reward," says the LORD of hosts. Thus says the LORD: "The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Ethiopia, and the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over to you and be yours, they shall follow you; they shall come over in chains and bow down to you. They will make supplication to you, saying: 'God is with you only, and there is no other, no god besides him.'" Truly, thou art a God who hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior. All of them are put to shame and confounded, the makers of idols go in confusion together. But Israel is saved by the LORD with everlasting salvation; you shall not be put to shame or confounded to all eternity.
Genesis 22:1-18 (RSV) - After these things God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "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 upon one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac; and he cut the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off. Then Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the ass; I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, "My father! "And he said, "Here am I, my son." He said, "Behold, the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" Abraham said, "God will provide himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together. When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place The LORD will provide; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, "By myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice."
Proverbs 17:17-18:5 (RSV) - A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. A man without sense gives a pledge, and becomes surety in the presence of his neighbor. He who loves transgression loves strife; he who makes his door high seeks destruction. A man of crooked mind does not prosper, and one with a perverse tongue falls into calamity. A stupid son is a grief to a father; and the father of a fool has no joy. A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones. A wicked man accepts a bribe from the bosom to pervert the ways of justice. A man of understanding sets his face toward wisdom, but the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth. A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him. To impose a fine on a righteous man is not good; to flog noble men is wrong. He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. He who is estranged seeks pretexts to break out against all sound judgment. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. When wickedness comes, contempt comes also; and with dishonor comes disgrace. The words of a man's mouth are deep waters; the fountain of wisdom is a gushing stream. It is not good to be partial to a wicked man, or to deprive a righteous man of justice.