2nd Sunday of Lent – Cycle B – 2009 Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
God put Abraham to the test. He called to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am!” he replied. Then God said: “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.” When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the Lord’s messenger called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” “Here I am!” 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; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing—all this because you obeyed my command.”
Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who acquits us, who will condemn? Christ Jesus it is who died–or, rather, was raised—who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. and he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.
This is my beloved Son. Listen to him. The voice from the cloud tells us who Jesus is. Often we are confused in our own lives about who Jesus is for us. We get confused about what the Scriptures are trying to tell. We listen to the story of Abraham and sense his total dedication to God but recognize that our dedication is not that strong.
The first reading today, from the Book of Genesis, tells us about Abraham. It is clear that Abraham’s faith is very strong and that he is willing to do whatever the Lord asks of him. What about our faith? Probably most of us would fail such a test. Does that mean we have no faith? No. We need only look at Saint Peter and how he denied Jesus three times, even though he did believe in him. Some of us may have the faith of an Abraham and others more like that of Saint Peter. Or even something else.
Lent invites us to deepen our faith and so we are given the example of Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice even what was most dear to him. Lent invites us to learn more about sacrifice in our own lives. We can wonder what we would give up for the Lord and where we might draw a line and deny the Lord. Jesus dies for us. Are we willing to die for him? Jesus suffers for us. Are we willing to suffer for him?
We find in the Gospels the account of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemani. This show us Jesus’ own reaction to suffering and to the thought of death. Yet Jesus chooses to walk the Way of the Cross so that we might have life. The transfiguration comes beforehand, putting a spotlight on the true humanity of Jesus and inviting us to acknowledge this complete humanity and Jesus own suffering.
We are not sure what happened to Jesus in the transfiguration. The Gospel accounts tell us that his clothes became white as snow. It is as though the divine comes straight through him and can be seen by Peter, James and John. We still must remember that later Peter will deny him. But at this point, these three followers are witnesses to some special happening in which they begin to see that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets.
For us Christians who are not so familiar with the law and the prophets, this probably does not have as much meaning. For Peter, James and John, this vision of Jesus as the fulfillment of the law and the prophets would have been personally transforming and deeply important.
We are invited to make Jesus the complete center of all of our faith. Jesus is the Son of God, the Son of the Father. Jesus gives meaning to every aspect of our life. Jesus invites us to share his relationship with His Father. Lent is about removing obstacles to our faith but also about choosing to let Jesus be the meaning of our lives. Let us walk in the light of the Lord. Just as Jesus is transfigured, may we be changed.