The first reading at Mass yesterday, from Genesis 22, was missing bits, as is often the case; and quite important bits. It does slightly annoy me when the lectionary edits Scripture!
First, the section about the journey to the mountain is omitted. But it contains this: as Abraham and Isaac leave the entourage and start towards the mountain, Isaac notices something missing.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.”
And again, verse 14 is missing:
So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
And at Mass we come to the mountain of the Lord, where the Lord will provide; and provide the lamb of sacrifice; his only Son, as Abraham was prepared to provide his only son.
Abraham was surrounded by the tribes with their gods; and desert gods tended to be vengeful, demanding sacrifice – even human sacrifice. How different God turned out to be; not only leaving Isaac unharmed, but providing an alternative; not a vengeful god, but the God of mercy, love and self-giving.
And the rest of the story of the people of Abraham is the story of us ever so gradually coming to realise that.