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2nd Sunday of Lent

Lent is a season where, scripturally, we revisit the story of our salvation history.  It’s the story of where our great patriarchs and prophets met the Lord God, and how our relationship with God, as a people, continues to grow and evolve.  We also know from our review of the readings last week that our overarching theme for Cycle B is covenant.  After God’s covenant with Noah last week, we now visit the next great covenant, that between God and Abraham…

Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Psalm 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19
Romans 8:31b-34
Mark 9:2-10

Our first reading, from the book of Genesis, is one of the great stories about Abraham.   By this point in the narrative God has already made a covenant with Abraham, but now God is putting that covenant to the test.  God asks Abraham to make a sacrifice of his young son Isaac.  Isaac, as we know, is the only child born by Abraham’s wife, Sarah (a birth promised by God).  By challenging Abraham to kill his son, God sees his faithfulness to both him and the covenant, and therefore relents at the very last moment.  God saw how committed Abraham was to the covenant, and reminds him of his promise to him… to make his descendants as numerous as the stars.  It is a difficult story, but as Christians we can’t help but to compare Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac with God’s willingness to sacrifice his own son, Jesus.  Our responsorial Psalm reminds us of the extent of our commitment to the Lord… to his covenant, as we sing “I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living.”

Our second reading comes from Paul’s letter to the Romans.  In this short passage Paul’s message is simple… if God is for us, who can be against us?  This is meant to remind us of the new covenant… the covenant created by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.  Through this covenant we are bonded with God in a way like never before.

Our gospel comes again from Mark, where we hear the story of the Transfiguration.  Jesus takes Peter, James, and John… his 3 most trusted Apostles… for a hike up the mountain (what we traditionally consider to be Mount Tabor, about mid-way between Nazareth and the southwest shore of the Sea of Galilee)  The story of the Transfiguration is a significant moment in our journey with Jesus, but for the sake of today’s theme, it’s not so much the moment of the Transfiguration that’s important, as what Jesus says after that moment on the way down the mountain.  Jesus implores the three not to say anything about this moment “except when the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”  Peter, James, and John are unsure of what Jesus means when he says this.  Of course, we already know what this means, but it’s also interesting to note that Mark and his followers also already knew what this meant.  Just as with many great stories today, however, where we already know the ending, we can see Mark’s use of suspense in his narrative while at the same time slowly revealing the nature and mission of Jesus.

Final Thoughts:
For the purpose of this Sunday’s theme, we can easily connect God’s sacrifice of his Son for the sake of the Covenant, just as Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son for the sake of the Covenant.  During our reflection of these readings during Lent, we are being called to ask ourselves, “what we are willing to give up in to maintain our covenant with God?”

But what of our secondary theme:  Baptism?  Our first reading teaches us that through Abraham’s obedience, God promises “I will bless you abundantly.”  The same covenant promises are made in our Baptismal promises:  We accept God and God accepts us.  Our second reading teaches that we are God’s “chosen ones.”  By our Baptism we too become the chosen of God.  As for our gospel, we see Jesus transfigured, where his clothes become “dazzling white.”  As part of the Baptismal Rite we put on a white garment symbolizing that our sins have been cleansed, and that we too are transfigured… born again and free of sin… one of God’s beloved.


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