• Thank you to all the parents who made a special Asian New Year feast for our students and abbey!
• All of our Latin students will be taking the National Latin Exam on March 10 during their regular Latin class.
• Third Quarter Oral Exams are March 16-20.
• The Sacrament of Confirmation will be bestowed on those students who would like to receive it on Monday, April 27, at 5:30 PM, in the abbey church.
• Graduation will be on Memorial Day, May 25, at 2:00 PM, in the abbey courtyard. All are welcome to attend.
• The first baseball game is: Thursday, March 12, at 1:30 PM. This game will be against the abbey’s seminarians and priests! All are welcome to attend.
We heard in today’s first reading the well-known story of Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac. We’ve all heard this story before—probably many times—but it still might strike us as a bit odd, even rather disturbing. Remember that Abraham and his wife Sara
were unable to have children for most of their married life together. Now that they finally have a child in their old age, God all of a sudden asks Abraham to sacrifice him. Well, we know how the story ends: Abraham obeys, but at the last moment God tells him not to do it and then
compliments Abraham for his faith: I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.
“What in the world is going on here?” we might ask. What kind of God do we have? Sacrifice your only son? What’s the point? Well, the point is crucial, even essential to our relationship with God. It’s at the center of our faith: sacrifice.
St. Augustine teaches us that every visible sacrifice is the visible sacrament or sacred sign of an invisible sacrifice [De Civitate Dei, V]. In other words, every time we offer a sacrifice to God, it represents the sacrifice of our mind and our heart, the giving of our very selves to God. And the dearer the thing is to us that we offer in sacrifice, the more we give ourselves to Him.
Now, of course, God does not want us to go slay our children (or anyone else for that matter); but as you may know, in the Old Testament days, the firstborn child was offered up symbolically in the Temple, and then the parents would offer up in sacrifice an animal in the child’s place. In addition, there were all kinds of others sacrifices offered up in the ancient Temple: the sacrifice of one’s firstborn sheep and cattle, the sacrifice of the first fruits of one’s harvest, and so on. Now, living as we do in our modern world, most of us cannot really grasp what sacrificing the first fruits of one’s harvest or firstborn of one’s animals meant. Think about it, you worked and waited all season, and now that you can finally enjoy the results of your labors, you have to forego it and offer it as a sacrifice to God. And God didn’t ask for just any of your sheep or harvest, He wanted the first that you had, and He wanted the best. But why?
Because God is the Creator of all that is good. Anything and everything that we have that is good is because God granted it to us. In other words, it’s ultimately His, but He shares it with us. So, when we offer up to Him in sacrifice some of the good that God give us, we show that we acknowledge His ownership, His power and might, His goodness, His supreme dominion over the entire universe. Ultimately sacrifice is an act of faith, and love, and obedience to God; and
God, when He accepts our sacrifice, gives us in return far more than we give Him. As He promised to Abraham: I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore, your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing—all this because you obeyed my command. Give God your best; and He will give you His best—He will give you Himself. Sacrifice to God expiates our sins, increases His grace in us, and unites us to Him.
So what is the very best that we can give God in sacrifice? After all, we are just mere humans and He is God. What do you give as a gift to a God Who has everything?! Well, God has solved that problem for us. As we heard in today’s second reading: God did not spare his own Son but handed Him over for us all. On Calvary God made a sacrifice of Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ. He made a sacrifice of Himself and to Himself, but He did it for us, to expiate all
of our sins, to unite us forever to Himself. But He didn’t stop there. He gave us the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, God renews that supreme sacrifice made on Calvary, on that first Good Friday. He renews it by making it present to us under the sacramental signs of bread and wine, changing their substance at the words of consecration into His own Body and Blood, so that that same Sacrifice might be extended across space and time, allowing to be present to it. Christ died as a sacrifice for us once and for all some 2,000 years ago; but at every Mass that same sacrifice is mystically but truly re-presented before us, so that we can share in it, so that we can offer it up to God through the hands of the priest, uniting all of our little sacrifices to this Supreme Sacrifice. God allows us to offer up to Him in sacrifice His own Beloved Son, so that we can reap the infinite blessings that come from such a perfect sacrifice.
And it was this that was prefigured, foreshadowed, in the sacrifice of Abel, who, representing the entire human race, gave of the first fruits of his harvest to God, by Abraham, who, representing the Jews, offered his own son, and by Melchisedech, who, representing the Gentiles, offered up bread and wine—all of which is recorded in the Book of Genesis and recalled during the Eucharistic Prayer which we hear at every Mass. So on Calvary, and at Mass, the perfect sacrifice, the sacrifice of God Himself, which in a way sums up every other sacrifice made by man, is offered to God; and we are allowed to share in that sacrifice, which saved us from eternal damnation and is the key to heaven.
So often during Lent—and during life—we quickly forget what it’s all about: all the little sacrifices we make. They often just seem like yet one more headache to deal with. Let us remember that when we unite our sacrifices to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, they take on a supernatural value, a gift pleasing to God. And how do we unite them to Christ’s? By approaching every one of them as Abraham did: with complete faith, love and obedience to God’s will. If we do, God in turn will shower us with every grace and blessing, here, and most especially, in the life to come. Amen.
• For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
• For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.