As we draw closer to the most sacred week of the entire Liturgical year we see in our readings today a wonderful parallel between the great Abram, who became Abraham, the father of many kings and nations, and the man called Jesus of Nazareth, who, after suffering death and then the glory of resurrection, would be known forever as the Christ, the Savior, and the Son of God.
Renamed by God himself, Abraham was chosen to enter into a new covenant, a covenant that would lead to the formation of a great people so dear to the heart of God. This people would become renowned and powerful among all the nations so long as they remained faithful to the promises they made to God and followed in the fidelity of their father, Abraham. Abraham is called "our father in faith" when we pray the first Eucharistic prayer at Mass and so he truly is, for he is the one who entered into the very first covenant with the Lord himself.
Jesus, the eternal Word of God, is also for us today the most powerful example of one who was obedient, obedient even unto death, death on a cross. It was through Jesus and his absolute obedience to the Father that we are now sons and daughters of a new covenant. Yet, it was a covenant that could only be attained through suffering and death. In all these final days of Lent until the celebration of the Easter feast we are invited to watch intently the obedience of Jesus, constantly surrendering himself to the will of his Father and to the whims of a nation that could barely see the beginnings of a new and mighty covenant with the Lord.
And so, we have Abraham, our father in faith, and Jesus, the Christ, the Lamb of God, the perfect offering who, on our behalf gains for us eternal life. How rich are these days to come, dear friends! How wonderful to enter so fully into the greatest mystery of our faith! Let us walk slowly and attentively as we meditate these days on the Passion and death of Jesus, our Crucified Lord. After all, we are the recipients of the greatest covenant that can ever exist, a new and eternal covenant that will lead us to the very kingdom of God.
Fr. Pat Brennan, CP is the director of Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, Sierra Madre, California.