Friday, February 27, 2015

Second Sunday of Lent Year B

Readings: Gen 22:1-2,9,10-13,18-18; Rm 8:31-34; Mk 9:2-10
Generosity, the third sign of a dynamic Catholic is the theme running through the readings of this Sunday. The readings help us to reflect on the generosity involved in self-surrender to the seemingly irrational demands of God. The drama of Abraham’s generous acceptance to sacrifice his only son Isaac, leads us to be aware that God asks us to give up the things we value most during this Lent to test our generosity. Lent is an excellent moment to examine how generous we are in paying the cost of our calling as disciples and stewards. Abraham's readiness to sacrifice Isaac is an excellent example of great generosity. The episode first gives us God’s request for the cost, and then the rewards of Abraham’s generosity. Yes, whenever we respond to God’s request, there are blessings in the end. "Because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you…" Paul in the second reading provides an interpretation of God's promises to Abraham and Sarah citing excerpts from the First Reading of today. But Paul is very much aware of the paradox of God's demands on us. The point Paul makes is that God in offering his only Son is out of generosity. "Since God did not spare his Son…we may be certain…that He will not refuse anything He can give". Both the story of Abraham and Paul's catechesis invite us to let our fears go and jump on that “magic carpet” of trust and self-surrender, no matter how much we might give up.

The Gospel is about the dramatic episode of the transfiguration on the mountain before the three disciples, Peter, James and John. The event is a clear manifestation of Jesus as the Son of God; an anticipation of his glory, through his death on the cross and the resurrection. Thus the transfiguration sets the stage for Jesus’ prediction of his suffering, death and resurrection. That prediction in Mark is the beginning of the intensifying enmity between Jesus and the religious leaders eventually leading to his trial, death and resurrection. The central message of the episode therefore is that God offers us his only Son Jesus out of his generosity, in order to save us through the Cross. There is a certain parallel between Abraham's readiness to offer his only son Isaac to God, and the fulfillment of that story in God’s generous offering of his only Son to die for our salvation. The transfiguration was a window to let the disciples see the glory of Jesus, leaving no doubt that he is truly the Son of God. The voice coming from a cloud was perhaps the most convincing. "This is my Son, the Beloved: listen to him". Thus the Gospel not only leads us to the mystery of Christ, but also invites us to listen and to surrender ourselves completely to his word that Christ may reveal himself to us. What message do we take home this Sunday? 1) Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice Isaac is an excellent example of great generosity. The story gives us an idea of the cost, as well as the rewards of one's surrender to God. 2) Just as Jesus surrenders himself to the point of death on the cross for our salvation, we too are challenged to embrace the Lenten discipline by being generous with our time, talent and treasure. 3) We are therefore invited to open our hearts to be transformed by Christ. Concretely that means going through our Lenten discipline in order to be the best version of ourselves and so enter into the glory of Christ’s resurrection.

©2015 John S. Mbinda

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