When Jesus taught His apostles the Our Father prayer that we all know so well, I am convinced that He had in mind the “Abrahamic test” we read in the second lesson today. Consider the story of Abraham’s obedience to God (even to the point of sacrificing his own son) is the iconic lesson to understand what “faith” really means. Unfortunately, faith is often considered a feeling or attitude along the lines of Team loyalty. Sports fans know all too well the power and frustrations associated with rooting for your team. Each year you put your faith in your team. You follow their ups and downs, but most of all, you hope for a future glory, otherwise known as a championship.
We are reminded in the First Eucharistic Prayers that Abraham is called the “father of faith” not because he was God’s number one fan, when everyone else was rooting for other gods and goddesses. Abraham shows us an example of a man of faith because he put his trust in a promise that seemed so unrealistic. God told him that he would be the father of a great nation. But how could that happen if he sacrificed his only son? Abraham’s faith in God’s ability to raise Isaac from the dead challenges even the most faith-filled person who reflects on the theory of faith. Those who are into sports analogies can understand the faith one has in teams and teamwork. In baseball, all it takes is good pitching and good hitting. Well, of course it also requires good fielding and good relief pitching and good middle relief pitching, and ok, maybe better base running and coaching. But other than that, it doesn’t take a miracle…just hard work…and prayer to get to the World Series. Rising from the dead…now there’s a real miracle.
So, don’t let this Mass (or any Mass) pass you by without stopping to reflect on your faith in God’s ability to do the miraculous. If we lose this type of faith, we lose the best kind of faith there is. Remember (as St. Paul reminds us over and over again), following religious traditions do not always equal having real faith. All of us need to fight the temptation to believe we have the “faith of Abraham” simply because we do our religious duty. We can consider ourselves very saintly because we pull ourselves out of bed and spend an hour in church and put a few dollars in the collection basket. But what is that in comparison to being asked to sacrifice your own son, when your fame and fortune depend on him? And neither you nor I have been forced to show the faith that the martyrs have shown when they shed their blood and accepted death because of their trust in God’s promises. Don’t let this Mass pass you by without asking the Good Lord to increase your faith. Until we don’t need faith anymore at that future moment when we will be allowed to see God face to face…it is our duty to work to increase our faith. How do we do that? Every day contains its own Abrahamic test.