The Poetry of John Paul II
A Conversation Between a Father and Son in the Land of Moriah
And so, on the third day, as they walked,
they spoke to one another:
Here is the hill, where I shall offer a sacrifice to God —
said the father. The son remained silent, he dared not ask:
Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
We have the fire, the wood, the knife for the sacrifice,
but where is the lamb?
God alone will provide it —
So much he said, yet he dared not say aloud
the words: You my son, will be the lamb —
and so he remained silent.
With this silence he sank once more into a hollow abyss.
He had heard the Voice which was leading him.
Now the Voice was silent.
He was left with nothing but his name
Abraham: he who believed against all hope.
In a moment he will build a sacrificial pile,
light the fire, bind the hands of Isaac —
and then —what? the pyre will burst into flame. . .
Does he already see himself as the father of a dead son,
A son which the Voice gave him and is now taking away?
Abraham, you who climb this hill in the land of Moriah,
there exists a limit to fatherhood,
a threshold you will never cross.
Here another Father will accept the sacrifice of his Son.
Do not be afraid, Abraham, go ahead,
do what you have to do.
You will be the father of many nations.
Do what you have to do, to the end.
He himself will hold back your hand
as it is ready to strike that sacrificial blow. . .
He himself will not permit your hand to carry out,
what has already been carried out in your heart.
Yes — your hand will halt in mid-air.
He himself will stay it.
Henceforth, the hill in the land of Moriah
will be expectation —
for on its heights the mystery will find fulfillment.
Excerpt from the English translation of The Roman Triptych -- The Poetry of Pope John Paul II © 2003 Libreria Edtrice Vaticana, Vatican City. Used with permission. All rights reserved.