Sacrifice: The Heart of Honoring God
To what lengths will we go to honor God? What will we put on the line to give God the glory? Worship demands sacrifice. We must give something up in order to give due respect to someone/thing “great.” Some have spent hundreds and even thousands of dollars to see their favorite music artist in concert or visit some “die to see” destination. Those people or places may be great, but they certainly aren’t greater than God.
Our first reading can be upsetting at first when we consider what God is asking of Abraham. In its full context, though, the story of Isaac’s sacrifice is less about what God commands than it is about how Abraham responds. Abraham is obedient with his whole heart because he values nothing greater than God. He will lay anything on the line (or on the altar!) to do the will of God.
The honor of God requires sacrifice not because God is difficult, but because we are selfish. When we seek to give honor to God, it necessitates that we turn away from some created good. To give honor to God through my daily prayer, I have to stop honoring the news anchor (turn off the TV and say my morning offering and prayers). To give honor to God on Sunday means that I cannot honor my favorite football team (go to Mass, even though I’ll miss the first quarter). To give honor to God in my intellect means that I must make use of solid, orthodox resources to learn my faith (stop uselessly browsing the Internet and open up a book on the faith).
A wise priest once said to my youth group when I was in high school, “Take out your planner and show it to me; and I will tell you what you worship.” Our time and activities directly reflect what is truly important to us. Nowadays, we simply need to look at why people are leaving their homes and how they are interacting in society. Many continue to say that it is too dangerous to give honor to God by going to Mass. And yet they are seen at the grocery store, having a get together at their home, and out at restaurants. How easy our lives proclaim what it is that we honor and love above all! To what ends will we go to honor God? If we will sacrifice more for a trip to the salon than we will to give God worship, it’s time to check our hearts. Well did Isaiah prophesy, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are very far from me” (see Mt. 15:8).