Put to the Test: a Lenten homily by a monk-priest of Genesee Abbey:

“God put Abraham to the test” – and it really was… THE test”, named by rabbis the “akidah” – “the binding.” Abraham is called by God to an act of total surrender, an act that we find horrific; having given up his past when he migrated at Gods’ command, now he is to give up his future with no one to continue his name. God’s words to Abraham underline the depth of the sacrifice: “Take your SON, Isaac, your ONLY one, WHOM YOU LOVE …you shall offer him up as a holocaust.” In the translation from Hebrew to English, there is a word missing, the word is “please” – “please take your son” – the command, as terrible as it is, is softened by that “please.” God knows what this test means for this man, whose obedience is extravagant.  Then, before the holocaust can take place, God intervenes; Abraham’s faith, devotion, obedience is startling, complete; by God’s grace he will become the father of many descendants and truly our father in faith but, first there was
the test.

The divine intervention Abraham experienced is also that of St. Paul in his letter to the Romans. And I believe it is this sacred intervention that Jesus Himself experienced and the disciples saw and heard on the high mountain. Paul writes and proclaims God’s extravagant mercy because, at Paul’s own confession, he learned it from the Lord Himself and no one else. Paul knew firsthand God’s merciful intervention. In our journey of faith, with all its ups and downs, we are graced to know that, in every situation, God is intervening for us – our God not only forgives, He goes beyond that – He acquits – He loves us into freedom, into peace – at every moment the Lord Jesus, at the Father’s right hand, intercedes for us.

Jesus is moved to take Peter, James, and John up a high mountain, and there, He is totally transfigured. Splendor and glory radiate from Him terrifying the disciples. It appears that Jesus Himself had a concern about what happened so He charges them not to relate this mysterious event until after the resurrection. Could this transfiguration not be the intervention of the Father? Could it not have been the Father’s affirmation of His beloved Son? Notice the Gospel proclaims, “And He was transfigured before them” – not that He transfigured Himself! The word of the Father is a strong affirmation, a verbal embrace: “This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him.” These divine interventions bring to mind the word “Covenant.”

Our God is the God of covenant….