Readings: Gen 22:1-2,9,10-13,18-18; Rm 8:31-34; Mk 9:2-10
Are you ready to follow Jesus this Lenten Season? Do you trust Him to guide you? These are the two basic questions that Jesus is asking you and me today. But first a story. A certain man was climbing a mountain when he suddenly noticed a deep cliff on the side of the mountain. He stopped to look at it and it was just amazing. As he leaned over to take a picture he fell. While going down the cliff, he miraculously got hold of a tree limb. He hung there in panic not knowing how he would get back. He then began to pray asking God to help him, but still in panic he shouted, “Is anyone up there?’ He heard a voice tell him, “yes, I am here, I heard your prayer. Now let go and I will catch you!” The man hesitated a little and then said, “Is there anyone else up there?”
I tell this story because the readings confront us with seemingly irrational demands of God to let go and surrender ourselves or what we hold dear to Him. The drama of Abraham accepting to sacrifice his only son Isaac, illustrates this point. The story leads us to become aware that God asks us to give up the things we value most during this Lenten season. Lent is an excellent season to examine those things we hold dear, and see the extent to which we are willing or unwilling to let go. Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his only Isaac is an excellent example self-surrender. The episode gives us an idea of the cost, as well as the rewards of one's surrender. There is suffering involved, but there are many blessings from God. "Because you have not refused me your son, your only son, I will shower blessings on you…".
Paul in the second reading refers to the First Reading to show the paradox of God's irrational demands on us; a God who, like Abraham, offers his only Son. "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, trust God and surrender ourselves, no matter how much we must give up. The Gospel features the dramatic episode of the transfiguration that sets the stage for Jesus’ prediction of his suffering, death and resurrection. That prediction in Mark is the beginning of the intensifying confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders, eventually leading to his passion, death and resurrection.
The good news in the readings may be summed up as follows:
1) God surrenders his only Son, just as Abraham does in the first reading;
2) Jesus challenges us to trust and let go, no matter the cost, because there is no one else up there!
3) The readings challenge us to take a moment to reflect on what it is that you need to let go in order to follow Jesus more closely this Lent.
©John S. Mbinda