July 6, 2017 – Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Saint Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr
Mark J. Poletunow, Malvern President (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Click for: Readings for the day (From the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops)
A reading from the Book of Genesis (22:1b-19)
God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a burnt offering
on a height that I will point out to you.”
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the burnt offering,
set out for the place of which God had told him.
On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
Then he said to his servants: “Both of you stay here with the donkey, while the boy and I go on over yonder. We will worship and then come back to you.”
Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,
while he himself carried the fire and the knife.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham: “Father!” he said. “Yes, son,” he replied. Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” “Son,” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.” Then the two continued going forward.
When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up his son Isaac, and put him on top of the wood on the altar. Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Here I am,” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son. Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh; hence people now say, “On the mountain the LORD will see.”
Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing–all this because you obeyed my command.”
Abraham then returned to his servants and they set out together for Beer-sheba, where Abraham made his home.
Reflect: Because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore. It is very tough to imagine that God would ask Abraham to even consider sacrificing his beloved son, Isaac; the child that he and Sarah conceived in their old age; the son that was promised to bring Abraham countless descendants. How could God test him like that? But our Father in Faith trusted God, and God provided. Of course, in the New Testament, Jesus becomes the sacrifice of the Heavenly Father; God gives his only Son for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus becomes the Lamb of God slain so as to put and end to sin and death. And he rose from the dead to show God’s ultimate victory. Sin and death have no more power over him. Jesus invites us to entrust our lives to him. We may be fearful at what God may ask of us; but he tells us not to be afraid. My children? My spouse? My home? My job? My friends? My status? My life? At some point and in some way, we will be tested. We will encounter the cross, but if we trust the Lord we will not be defeated. He is with us; he will never abandon us. Though we might walk in the valley of death, we should fear no evil for God is with us. He has promised and it is so. O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!
Questions: How have I seen or experienced God’s provision for me or others – especially when tested? What am I fearful about today; what am I afraid of losing? Can I try today to make and repeat a prayer of trust and abandonment to God and his divine will?
Pray: Loving God, my life is in your hands. To whom else can I go? You alone have the words of everlasting life. Lead me; guide me; and keep me close to you. I surrender myself to you and I trust that you will take care of me and those I love. I pray this in the powerful and perfect name of Jesus. Amen.
Saint Maria Goretti: Pray for us!
Maria Goretti was born to a faith-filled and poor family of farm laborers in Corinaldo, Italy. After her father’s death, Maria dedicated herself to helping her mother care for the family. At age eleven, she convinced a friend to instruct her in the catechism and she made her First Communion in a borrowed dress. A few months later, a nineteen year old farm laborer attempted to rape her. Maria begged him not to commit that grave sin, but he stabbed her repeatedly. In 1902, she died offering him forgiveness. She was canonized a Saint in 1950 before the largest crowd ever assembled for a canonization. She is the patroness of teenage girls. Saint John Paul II taught that Maria’s life, “encourages us to experience the joy of the poor, who know how to renounce everything, provided they do not lose the one thing necessary: the friendship of God”
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