Sunday, March 1, 2015, is the Second Sunday of Lent. The readings will be Genesis 22:1-2,9a,10-13,15-18; Romans 8:31b-34;
and Mark 9:2-10.
Each Sunday as we listen to the Scriptures, we listen from the vantage point of knowing that Jesus is God. We know that Jesus suffered and died, and we also know that Jesus rose to new life and has invited us to follow him to that new life. We have an advantage that our ancestors in faith didn’t always have.
Our first reading next Sunday is the difficult passage in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham lived long before Jesus, but had come to believe in the one, true God. Abraham conveyed his devotion to God through the cultural practices of his time: the highly esteemed virtue of obedience and sacrificial offering. Abraham’s inner struggle must have been terrible as he attempted to demonstrate hisfaith in God through the sacrifice of his own son. It was Abraham’s faith that allowed God to reveal something new: the one God, in whom Abraham believes, is a compassionate God.
The Gospel reading from Mark is the account of the Transfiguration. As the apostles Peter, James, and John climbed the mountain with Jesus, they did not yet understand his resurrection, though they had heard him predict his imminent suffering and death. Their experience on the mountain in which Jesus is transfigured, converses with Moses and Elijah, and hears a voice from the cloud saying “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him,” will give the apostles hope. When the events of Jesus’ trial, torture and death start to close in around them, they will remember this experience of divine validation. Jesus’ death will lead to new life.
As Jews, the disciples would have prayed the “Shema’ each day, the words of Deuteronomy that said “Hear [shema] O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.” At the Transfiguration, God instructs the disciples to “hear” Jesus. Jesus is the embodiment and the fulfillment of God’s Word. That Word speaks to us, reminding us that the suffering and sacrifice that are our Lenten focus will only have meaning if we unite them with the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus, and follow him all the way to the new life of Easter.
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