What God is this?

The story of Abraham and Isaac may make us wonder what kind of God we believe in. How could God ask Abraham, his faithful follower, to sacrifice his beloved son? What God truly desired was not the sacrifice of Isaac, but the proof of Abraham’s faith and trust in him. Some followers of pagan religions did sacrifice children to their gods, but the Jews understood the story of Abraham as a stern warning against such a savage custom. They believed in a God of love and mercy.

Just as God revealed his true self to Abraham, in today’s Gospel Jesus reveals his true self to Peter, James and John. They are granted a glimpse of the Son of God in his heavenly glory. It’s too much to take in and the disciples are terrified, even before they hear the voice of God the Father: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved.’ The vision of who Jesus really is will help to prepare them for what lies ahead; his suffering and death.

God did not, in the end, ask Abraham to sacrifice his son. But God did sacrifice his own Son, Jesus, to save us from our sins. As St Paul says, God has given us the greatest possible gift. God has shown us who he really is – the God of love and mercy.

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