Sunday, March 8, 2009

Second Sunday of Lent

Dear All,

On our Lenten journey to Easter, the highest feast of the liturgical year, we come across another covenant of God in the First Reading of the Book of Genesis.  Not unlike last week’s covenant relationship with all the creatures of the world, this week we read of the covenant made with Abraham.  Having promised Abraham descendants and land, God asks him to sacrifice the very son through whom the promise was to be carried out.  Abraham is put to the test to choose between the promise of God to be fulfilled in Isaac and the very God who made the promise in the first place.  Abraham shows the depth of his faith in God with a terrifying response, getting ready to kill his only son.  Accepting God’s grace, even when not understanding, was the key to avoid focusing on the promise itself.  Complicated indeed, I have to admit, but part of the mystery of suffering in this world.

In the Second Reading from his Letter to the Romans, Paul says simply, yet with profound and unshakable faith, that if God is with us, no one and nothing can be against us.  This deep conviction Paul wishes to convey to his Roman communities… and to us.  God being with us does not mean avoidance from suffering, very much like to get to Easter, Jesus had to suffer through Good Friday.  No one and nothing against us, means that nothing can prevent the Good News of Salvation and Eternal Life.  Not even Jesus crucifixion and burial prevented God from raising Him on Easter Sunday.  This is a great mystery of the suffering.  I often think that we are good company to Peter, John and James when coming down from Mount Tabor when “questioning what rising from the dead meant”.  We need the faith of Abraham and of Paul that sustains us during our travel through the weeks of Lent.

I realize, I got ahead of myself coming down from the high mountain before we even got up there.  Six days before the story we read from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus had told his closest followers that he must go to Jerusalem, where he would suffer and be put to death.  He tried to tell them that it was a path to glory both for him and for them.  For them, like it would be for us if we wouldn’t know about the Easter Resurrection, it didn’t make any sense.  They were worried and anxious.  Jesus had to give them something to hold onto.  He took three of them to the lonely summit of a mountain where they had a mystical experience that would stay with them for the rest of their lives.  The Greek Bible talks bout the metamorphosis.  As Jesus transfigured and for a brief interval his divinity shone through, two biblical ancestors, Moses and Elijah, who also had experienced suffering, revelation and transformation on mountain tops (Sinai and Carmel) engage in dialogue with him.  They represent the Mosaic Law and the Prophets from the Old Testament.  And while the three are terrified and Peter makes the off the wall suggestion of building tents, we hear for the second and last time in the New Testament, God’s voice, pointing us, like at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, to his beloved son.  This time with a precise instruction to Peter, John, James and all of us, who often hear but not understand: “Listen to him”.

A complete text of the readings at:

With God’s Love and Blessings,


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