The Faith of Abraham vs. Trust in Yourself

God promised Abraham a covenant, which would continue with his son, Isaac, and with his offspring.

{17:19} And God said to Abraham: “Your wife Sarah shall give birth to a son, and you shall call his name Isaac, and I will establish my covenant with him as a perpetual covenant, and with his offspring after him.

Then God ordered Abraham to take his only son Isaac, and offer him as a sacrifice to God on a mountainside.

[Genesis 22]
{22:1} After these things occurred, God tested Abraham, and he said to him, “Abraham, Abraham.” And he answered, “Here I am.”
{22:2} He said to him: “Take your only begotten son Isaac, whom you love, and go into the land of vision. And there you shall offer him as a holocaust upon one of the mountains, which I will show to you.”
{22:3} And so Abraham, getting up in the night, harnessed his donkey, taking with him two youths, and his son Isaac. And when he had cut wood for the holocaust, he traveled toward the place, as God had instructed him.
{22:4} Then, on the third day, lifting up his eyes, he saw the place at a distance.
{22:5} And he said to his servants: “Wait here with the donkey. I and the boy will hurry further ahead to that place. After we have worshipped, will return to you.”
{22:6} He also took the wood for the holocaust, and he imposed it upon his son Isaac. And he himself carried in his hands fire and a sword. And as the two continued on together,
{22:7} Isaac said to his father, “My father.” And he answered, “What do you want, son?” “Behold,” he said, “fire and wood. Where is the victim for the holocaust?”
{22:8} But Abraham said, “God himself will provide the victim for the holocaust, my son.” Thus they continued on together.
{22:9} And they came to the place that God had shown to him. There he built an altar, and he set the wood in order upon it. And when he had bound his son Isaac, he laid him on the altar upon the pile of wood.
{22:10} And he reached out his hand and took hold of the sword, in order to sacrifice his son.

Abraham was willing to offer his only son as a sacrifice to God, because Abraham had faith in God.

He did not say to God, “How will your promise be fulfilled, if I kill my only son? He will have no offspring and the promise of a covenant would be false and broken.” Abraham trusted God, in a situation in which his own ability to reason, based on incontrovertible facts, would have told him not to follow God’s instructions.

{22:11} And behold, an Angel of the Lord called out from heaven, saying, “Abraham, Abraham.” And he answered, “Here I am.”
{22:12} And he said to him, “Do not extend your hand over the boy, and do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, since you have not spared your only begotten son for my sake.”
{22:13} Abraham lifted up his eyes, and he saw behind his back a ram among the thorns, caught by the horns, which he took and offered as a holocaust, instead of his son.
{22:14} And he called the name of that place: ‘The Lord Sees.’ Thus, even to this day, it is said: ‘On the mountain, the Lord will see.’
{22:15} Then the Angel of the Lord called out to Abraham a second time from heaven, saying:
{22:16} “By my own self, I have sworn, says the Lord. Because you have done this thing, and have not spared your only begotten son for my sake,
{22:17} I will bless you, and I will multiply your offspring like the stars of heaven, and like the sand which is on the seashore. Your offspring will possess the gates of their enemies.
{22:18} And in your offspring, all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you obeyed my voice.”

Then God sent an Angel to stop Abraham from sacrificing his son. And Abraham did not say to the Angel, “I must obey the word of God that I received, and disobey you, a mere Angel.” Again, he set aside what his own reason would have told him was the right path, so as to trust in God.

Faith is greater than reason, especially the reason of fallen sinners. We Catholic Christians have the seven Sacraments, while Abraham had none. We have explicit knowledge of Christ, while Abraham knew Christ only implicitly. We have knowledge and blessings so much greater than Abraham, and yet our faith is much less than his faith.

Papal Critics

The papal critics all lack faith, every single one of them. Perhaps Pope Francis erred, to a limited extent, in some decision of discipline, or in some theological opinion. Perhaps he erred, to a substantially limited extent, in a non-infallible teaching. But this does not justify the faithless words and deeds of the papal critics. It does not justify open rejection of his authority, accusations of propagating heresy, and severe criticism and opposition toward his every word and deed.

The papal critics do not trust that God is working through the Roman Pontiff. They do not trust the work of the Holy Spirit in the Magisterium of the Church, not even the papal Magisterium. They compare the decisions of the Pope on doctrine and discipline to their own reasoning, and when there is any conflict, they assume that they must be right and the Vicar of Christ must be wrong. They are acting based on trust in their own understanding, and distrust in the person appointed by the grace and providence of God to lead the Church.

Abraham is in Heaven, shaking his head at these faithless critics. For they have so many more blessings that Abraham had, and yet they have so much less faith.

by
Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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