Big Picture #1: God Offers What’s Most Precious to Him


The First Reading is about the testing of Abraham, where God asks him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, but, at the last moment, God stops him.  What we’re going to do today is start with a true story about how a whole family died during the Holocaust in order to save some Jewish people, and then we’re going to meditate on the fact that God allows His own Son to die for us.  The goal today is very simple: To understand that God proves His love for us by giving what’s most precious to Him.  We’re looking at the big picture of our faith, and then we’re going to see how we live it in our parish.

This is Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma, married in 1935 in Poland:


They were farmers and had seven children.  This colourized photo  shows Stanislawa (age 7), Barbara (6), Wladyslaw (5), Franciszek (3), Antoni (2), and Maria (1), and Wiktoria was eight months pregnant with a son at the time of their death:

Jozef was engaged in photography, which has allowed us a glimpse into their family’s life.


“We know very little about the spirituality of the Ulmas .  Yet… they enjoyed a wide recognition [in] the local community as virtuous and righteous people”.  “They lived in the sacraments, prayed often, cultivated many interests and showed… others sincere kindness and respect… [and, from her own family,] ‘Wiktoria learned… that you do not have to have much in order to help someone in need ”.

In the summer of 1942, “the Ulmas… had witnessed the execution of the Jews of their small town…  A Jewish family… came to Markowa to find shelter.  When they asked Jozef and Wiktoria… to hide them, the couple agreed…  Although the Ulma house was at the outskirts, the Jews’ presence on the farm was soon discovered.  In the night of 23-24 March 1944 German police came to Markowa…  They found the Jews… and shot them to death.  Afterwards they murdered the entire Ulma family”, beginning with the parents.  The Church recognizes this whole family as saints, and their feast day is July 7.

Why did Bl. Jozef and Bl. Wiktoria sacrifice their lives and risk their children’s?  The canonization process “discovered that their family Bible contained passages related to the parable of the Good Samaritan which had been underlined. The Good Samaritan is the man who sees a half dead enemy on the roadside, beaten by robbers, and puts his life in danger to help.

All parents who accept their sons and daughters to become police officers, soldiers, firefighters, etc. accept their children to risk their lives so that others may live.  This also happens in marriages, where spouses accept the possibility that they may be widowed or have to raise children on their own.

The First Reading begins, “God tested Abraham.  He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And Abraham said, ‘Here I am.’  God said, ‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you’” (Gen 22:1-2).  The key phrase here is ‘your only son,’ because, in the Greek Old Testament, this is translated as ‘your beloved son,’ and that’s how the New Testament refers to Jesus.  So, this story is not so much focused on Abraham and Isaac, but on God the Father and Jesus!  The point is that, the one thing that most of us can’t do, allow our children to die so that others may live, is what God does for us.

There are many more parallels.  Here are four: 1) Moriah is the location of the future Temple (2 Chr 3:1), outside of which Jesus will be crucified; 2) Isaac asks his father, “where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (22:7), and Jesus describes Himself as the Lamb of God; 3) “Abraham built an altar” (22:9), and the table on which Jesus celebrated the Last Supper was an altar because He said, “This is my Body which is for you”; 4) “He bound his son Isaac, and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood” (22:9) just as Jesus is bound to the wood of the Cross.

We also know that God doesn’t intend for Abraham actually to go through with the killing because this event is part of Abraham’s faith journey.  In the beginning, God challenged him with something he could do: “Go from your country… to the land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1).  Now, God increases the challenge by saying, ‘Go to the land of Moriah… on one of the mountains that I shall show you.’  God’s wondering: Will Abraham love me the way I love him?  Because God will go through with allowing His beloved Son to die for our sins, then rise again, so that we can have eternal life.

Therefore, we want to reflect on our understanding of God’s love for us.  Would we let our children become police officers, soldiers, firefighters to help others, knowing that they may not come home?  Would we allow them to become priests or sisters and never have a family of their own so that others may have eternal life?  Are strangers worth that much to us?

Remember what we said in September 2023: Worth depends on what someone is willing to pay for something.  If there’s a painting by Picasso, then people are willing to pay millions for it, so that’s what it’s worth. Consequently, if Jesus is willing to pay His whole life for us, then we’re infinitely valuable. This is the foundation of Christian faith and the beginning of the spiritual journey.

Let’s apply this to our parish.  More and more people come here to explore faith.  We had 11 adults become Catholic last year, which is more than ever, and we currently have 23 people in RCIA to become Catholic.  For them and us here, we don’t begin with the commandments, or the Church, or the Mass.  We begin with God the Father’s love for us.

When I first went to Mass at age 13, no one helped me to understand what was going on, and there was no clear place for me to learn about God.  Compare that to how we’re ready to help now: The Hospitality Team is happy to help everyone and answer questions; people can try Alpha (more about that in a minute), and can start the process of becoming Christian at any point during the year.  We have amazing people leading these ministries and have invested a lot of money in our ministries because people are worth it.

This is Evangelization, which is one of five purposes or systems of any church.

Source: Rick Warren,

God is blessing this (and we’re humbled by it), and a huge thank-you to all of you who are welcoming to others and invite them.  Let’s keep on growing in this!  We know we’re headed in the right direction because people are experiencing the fullness of life.

As mentioned, we’re starting Alpha on March 7, 2024.  This is the best program out there for anyone exploring faith because the videos make sense, there’s free food, and no pressure.  The first session explores the question: Is there more to life than this?  Let’s continue to invite anyone we love to Alpha.  Ask them just to give it a try.  No one has to come back.  The Hospitality Team has cards that you can share with others.

 Again, the point of today’s homily is that God proves His love for us by giving what’s most precious to Him, and we should offer Jesus as well.

We end now with a video about two people who tried Alpha, and we all know people who are similarly searching, whom we can invite!

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