In our reading today (https://universalis.com/mass.htm), we find the continuation of the conversation of Our Lord with the Jews in the temple.
Jesus once again returns to the story of Abraham and says that: “Abraham rejoiced to think that he would see my day”. The congregation does not understand what He means, for Abraham died long ago. The key to understanding is that Jesus’ day is meant to be the day of the Lord, the coming of the Messiah, when the promises made to Abraham are fulfilled (Genesis 12:2). Here we come back to our first reading which contains the story about the second promise made to Abraham and to the Psalm which mentions Abraham as well.
Abraham indeed saw Jesus’ day – through the eyes of faith. This faith was rewarded with a covenant of promise that one of Abraham’s descendants, Jesus, would arise to bless all nations (Genesis 22:16-18). Then there is the story at Mamre where men approach the tent of Abraham, and, having shared a meal, promise that Sarah will give birth to a son. We also find the motif of sonship in the preparation for the sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:1-18). When Isaac is spared, Abraham sees the day when God Himself with provide the Lamb to be sacrificed, foreshadowing the Passion of the Lord.
Abraham’s faith pointed to Jesus; it foresaw His mystery.
Saint Augustine understood it when he wrote that the patriarchs were saved by faith, not faith in Christ who had come but in Christ who was yet to come, a faith pressing towards the future of Jesus. (In Ioh. Evang., 45, 9: PL 35, 1722-1723).
Isaac had to carry the wood up to Mount Moriah, to the altar of sacrifice. Hundreds of years later, Jesus is forced to carry the wood of the Cross up to Golgotha, to the altar of His sacrifice for us. As Abraham is willing to sacrifice his son and later receives him back alive, he “sees a preview of the Father surrendering his Son to death and receiving him back in the Resurrection” (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible).
When a son is born, he is usually placed into a cradle. St John Paul II points at this in his sermon of 5 April 1979: “Christ is he who accepted the whole reality of human dying. And for that very reason He is the One who made a radical change in the way of understanding life. He showed that life is a passing over, not only to the limit of death, but to a new life. Thus the Cross became for us the supreme Chair of the truth of God and of man. We must all be pupils—no matter what our age is—of this Chair. Then we will understand that the Cross is also the cradle of the new man.”
The Cross becomes a cradle of the new man, a cradle Jesus was deprived of when He was born.
And the new sons and daughters – this is us. Isn't this a most joyful consolation, these days perhaps even more than ever?
By Fr Tomas, illustration by Jan Hearn ©