The story of Abraham willing to sacrifice his son is a powerful one. His trust in God and his willingness to do that what is unthinkable because God asked him to humbles me.
But the story of Abraham and his sacrifice is not just a reading from the Old Testament. I was lucky enough to meet a most remarkable woman named Mama Angelina Aytam while on a recent trip to Uganda with students for a class, Backpack Journalism.
In Uganda, a ferocious civil war raged for 20 years. The rebel leader abducted children from their villages to serve as soldiers or as “wives” for his commanders. Mama Angelina’s 14-year-old daughter was abducted from her boarding school. During that time, Mama Angelina and the other parents of abducted children prayed and tried to get the world to pay attention to their story. Mama Angelina realized while praying the Our Father with the parents that she had to forgive the rebels if she hoped to get her daughter back. She did forgive and urged others to do the same. But she kept up her advocacy to get the children back. That pressure on the rebels led to an offer from the leader eight months later: He would return her daughter if she would stop the campaign. She asked for the return of all the children. The rebel leader said no. She then refused the offer, seeing it as a betrayal to all of the other parents and children. It would be nearly seven years before she saw her daughter. Today she says she is blessed because her daughter also understood why her mother did what she did.
Her willingness to forgive and her trust in God stagger me. Like the people in the Gospel reading, she believed in doing the right thing. My prayer today is to try to live out the word of God as Mama Angelina did, to practice forgiveness wholeheartedly and without reserve.