The Word on the Week

Religious Ceremonies during Covid

Religious Ceremonies during Covid        Word on the Week            1st August 2020.

Eid-al-Adha in Croke Park.   A celebration of Islam on the revered turf.   The age of inclusion has arrived almost without warning!    The Muslim “festival of sacrifice” was a bloodless one last Friday at least any sacrificing was done outside the park.

The festival marks the end of the Hajj season of pilgrimages.   It provides an opportunity for families and communities to come together for prayers and feasting. Goats, cows and lambs are sacrificed and the meat is shared with the poor.

Abraham’s planned sacrifice of his son is being commemorated.   God tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice his only son, who had been miraculously born to his elderly wife Sarah.   In his struggle to reconcile God’s demands with the promise that he would be the father of a multitude Abraham reasoned that God could bring the boy back from the dead.    What actually happened was a ram, caught by its horns in a nearby thicket, became the substitute sacrifice (Genesis Chapter 22 verses 1 – 18 and Hebrews Chapter 11 verses 17 -19).

There are a few differences with Christianity.   Muslims say Ismael Abraham’s son by his wife’s servant was offered.    But this was the son of disobedience.   The product of Abraham, taking matters into his own hands and at his wife’s instigation, committed adultery with Hagar the maid-servant (Genesis Chapter 16 verses 1 – 4).

Christians believe that Isaac, the son of promise, was the son God used to test Abraham’s faith.   He was the son of faith.  Born out of union with his wife Sarah who was 90 years old.   Born when Abraham was age 100 and Ishmael was 14 years old (Genesis Chapter 17 verses 25 – 26).

Unlike Ishmael’s birth which was natural Isaac’s birth was supernatural.    Both parents were well past childbearing age so that Isaac’s birth and his name, foretold by angelic heavenly visitors one year before Isaac’s birth, was the fulfilling of a miracle (Genesis Chapter 18 verse 10).

It was through Isaac’s line that a peasant girl of the tribe of Judah named Mary, by God’s grace, gave birth to a son.   This too was a miraculous birth.   The angel gave the name to Joseph, Mary’s engaged, of Jesus which means saviour.   He was to be given that name because he would save his people from their sins (St Matthew Chapter 1 verses 20 – 21).  

This work to provide salvation was completed on the cross where Jesus hung as the sacrifice given by the Father.   This time there was no substitute.   Jesus was there as our substitute.    He was dying in the sinner’s place.   The Shepherd becomes the Lamb.  Sacrificed for us once for all time (Isaiah Chapter 53 verses 4 -6 and Hebrews Chapter 9 verses 28 -28).

Jesus gives the invitation to you whatever your background to turn to Him and find rest for your soul – the rest of redemption (St Matthew Chapter 11 verses 28 – 30).   The offer is for you today.