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I Will Refuse Nothing Of Which He Asks

No sorrow reaches the depth felt by a parent as they watch their beloved son or daughter suffer. And no suffering is close to a parent’s anguish over the death of their child.

It’s confounding, then, to contemplate God asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac as a burnt offering. Even more astounding is how Abraham doesn’t question it. He loves God so much that he refuses Him nothing, knowing that God’s wisdom is everything.

Spend a moment with the Story:

“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.”

Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well, and with the wood that he had cut for the holocaust, set out for the place of which God had told him.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next, he tied up his son Isaac and put him on top of the wood on the altar.

Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.

But the LORD’S messenger called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered.

“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger. “Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”

As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD’S messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said: “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore…” (Genesis 22: 1-2, 9-13, 15-18)

Abraham’s incredible love for God prefigures the Father’s love for Jesus, his only begotten Son whom he sacrifices on the Cross for the sins of every person in every generation. (Isaiah 53)

The Father’s Only Begotten Son, Jesus

Jesus, in his Gethsemane anguish, seeing the kind of suffering and death prepared for him, loved the Father by refusing him nothing, even a humiliating and crushing death on a cross. He embraced punishment for our sins, himself without any, a spotless lamb.

Peter, James, and John witness this bond between the Father and Son in the moment of Christ’s transfiguration. The disciples hear, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him.”

In those words, they experience a moment of the eternal glory of heaven, of infinite Divine Love.

Mother Teresa’s Vow “Not to refuse Him anything”

St. Teresa of Calcutta wanted to love Jesus with her entire being and more. In 1942, with permission from her confessor, she made a vow to God to refuse Him nothing. Here’s what she wrote to Archbishop Perier in 1959:  1

“I made a vow to God– binding under mortal sin–to give to God anything He might ask–not to refuse Him anything.”

Her reason for it? “I wanted to give God something very beautiful,” she wrote.

Four years after making that vow, on a train heading to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, she encountered Jesus, who asked her to serve the poorest in the Calcutta streets.

“It was on that train I heard the call to give up all and follow him into the slums-to serve him in the poorest of the poor…I knew it was His will, and I had to follow Him.” 2

She didn’t know the depth of intimacy she was about to enter with Christ in that call. Jesus wanted her to unite herself to Him totally in the “distressing disguise” as she described those who suffered the most. It was a union of Love, a bond that reached into her infinite longing and soul causing her to suffer a profound sense of absence of the One she pledged not to refuse anything.

Throughout our life, every day, Jesus asks us to come to Him and love Him. He is persistent, gentle and patient, for He knows of what we are made. He knows that our infinite longing to love and be loved sometimes seeks fulfillment in the people and things of this passing world.

When we surrender all that He takes away from us, all that ends, then we begin to turn our hearts to Him completely. We no longer want to withdraw our love from Him, who alone can satisfy our longing.

At some point, we may offer Jesus something very beautiful, to refuse Him nothing of which he ask.


  1. Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light; ed. by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC
  2. Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, ed. by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC

Published in LENT