The commentary on today’s Gospel can be found here. Today’s Epistle reading:

Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19

Becoming God’s friend through faith

Theodoret of Cyr notes that the author shows both those before the law and those under the law becoming God’s friends. This brings out the power of faith and provides comfort for those struggling against temptation and sin. Faith allows us to see the immortality of those who have it and believe in the name of Jesus.

St Leo the Great bids us rejoice that whatever was veiled in the Old Testament has been unveiled through the Passion of the Lord. We no longer need to make sacrifices or practice purification rites or circumcision or the dietary laws. The Law came through Moses, but as St John reminds us ‘grace and truth’ through Jesus Christ. The prophets prefigured Jesus, but when the Messiah came we had no need of heralds any more. Reconciliation with God comes to all who will seize it in the same way, through faith in Jesus Christ

Ephrem the Syrian reminds us that our faith is not destroyed by despair because it was made firm  by true hope – as the prophets testify.

Augustine asks how we can be sure that something we cannot see exists? Because God gave us eyes to see His world, and the sense to apprehend it; these things did not come from nowhere, any more than we did. If we arouse the reason in our heart, we shall know these things to be true.

It was such faith which took Abraham into the Promised Land – not in houses as owners, but in tents as sojourners. St Gregory of Nyssa likens our waiting for the the second coming of the Lord to the faith Abraham and his heirs showed in God. Though nature seemed to say Sarah could never have a son, she had one – her faith was rewarded. So too was that of Abraham, who, though he knew his body was dead in vigour, yet, through faith, gained his heart’s desire. Even so, his faith was so great that when God seemed to demand his sacrifice, Abraham did not hesitate. Thus it was that through Isaac, God fulfilled his promise to Abraham that his descendants would be too numerous to count.

St Athanasius calls Abraham a man of ‘true faith’ because he was willing to offer up all his hopes for the future when God commanded it. The ram which he sees and sacrifices is the type of the Lamb of God who was sacrificed to the salvation of mankind.