It has got to be the most perplexing story in the Bible, and I'm not going to pretend to solve it. But something about today's first reading, in the light of yesterday's and today's saints, appeared in a new light.
For one thing, there is the stark command: "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love." After yesterday's feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, I heard the much later question with the same implication: "Simon, do you love me more than these?"
Today the Church recognizes the martyrs of Rome, those thousands(maybe tens of thousands) of Christians who were put to death in a thousand vicious ways for the sake of the Way. You may recall that the first several hundred (or thousand) of these martyrs were Nero's victims. Even the pagan historians of the time were appalled at Caesar's cruelty in having these men, women and children covered in pitch and set on fire to illuminate the imperial gardens. Abraham did not have to go through with offering Isaac as a burnt offering, but Isaac was offered that way in those latter-day children of Abraham, because of their Abraham-like fidelity to God.
Lord, grant me the faith of Abraham: a faith that does not hide anything away from you!