“God Himself will provide the Lamb.”
Dear St. Louis Parishioners,
When Abraham reassured his son, Isaac, with these words, God proved faithful as always. As a general rule with prophecy, the words have an immediate fulfillment, as well as their final fulfillment in Christ, who is the Lamb of God (like we reflected on last week). The immediate fulfillment came after God stopped the hand of Abraham from laying the knife to his beloved son, when they turned and found a ram caught in a thicket, to be offered in sacrifice to God. This image can be found on the wall of the nave, in the back corner of the Eastern wall (third window from the back, also front cover). The binding of Isaac (Gen. 22), as the event is commonly called, is one of the most promin
ent Old Testament prefigurations of the offering of Christ on the cross for our salvation. Ultimately, God did not intend for Abraham to offer his only beloved son, but wanted to offer us all a hint of the fact that one day His own only Beloved Son would carry the wood for the sacrifice upon His back, up a hill (like Isaac) to offer Himself for us. The lamb caught in the thicket reminds us, not only of the Passover lamb to enter the scene of salvation history in the very next book of the Bible (Exodus), but the wood of the cross of Christ (the Lamb crowned with thorns), prefigured by the wood Isaac carried on his back, at the time that Abraham spoke those prophetic words. This is especially striking in light of the fact that earlier this week (9/14) we celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross! This feast day is a sort of turning point in the Church Year, bringing us into the final stage (roughly the final third) of the year, in which we see many reminders of the
Victory which flows from the cross of Christ – I like to call it “the victory tour.” And this is the beautiful and profound irony of the cross, that this symbol of death, defeat and shame becomes a symbol of Life, Hope, and Victory. By His death, He has set us free, redeemed us, healed us and offered us the gift of salvation. Death leads to life. Suffering takes on a whole new meaning, as we find compassion and hope in the cross of Christ.
Secondarily, the lamb in the thicket might make us think of ourselves. Why? Most of us, at some point, in some way, have been that lost sheep caught in a thicket, in need of the Good Shepherd to help us out, remove the thorns, and bathe our wounds in the waters of Mercy flowing from His pierced side. This Mercy received from Christ on the cross is what makes it possible for us to show mercy to others, as this weekend’s Gospel reminds us and challenges us. Perhaps we see someone else now as the lost sheep caught in a thicket. Will we offer them to God, in prayer and in service? May we allow the Mercy of Christ to transform our hearts and lives, so that we may be ambassadors of His Mercy, and so transform the world. In Christ through Mary, Fr. Gifford
St. Louis, pray for us!
Blessed Mary, Queen Mother of the King of Kings, pray for us!