Second Sunday of Lent
Today is the Second Sunday of Lent. This week is about beloved sons, Isaac and Jesus. In the first reading from Genesis, Abraham is told to sacrifice his only son. He prepares to do just that. The reading from Romans reminds us that God’s only Son was sacrificed for us. In the passage from Mark’s Gospel, the disciples are shown that Jesus is God’s beloved Son. In each of these readings a beloved son is brought to the brink of death. Abraham’s obedience and trust in God is tested. Jesus is not tested but revealed to his disciples, who do not understand what they are seeing. Abraham and the disciples are told to listen. By listening they are brought beyond death into life. Our Lenten preparation is about listening for the word of God even when, like Abraham and the disciples, we are asked to do what we think we cannot do.
TESTING TESTING TESTING
Often it can seem as if our faith is being tested. We can be asked, like Abraham, how much we are willing to sacrifice in obedience to God’s call. Abraham appeared willing to sacrifice his most precious gift, his son, Isaac. Abraham went so far as to take the knife with which he could have ended his son’s life. But God did not ask that of him. God asked only that he be willing and that he continue to listen. In Mark, it is the disciples who are tested to understand the vision that they are given of Jesus, visibly transformed from an ordinary man like themselves to beloved Son of God. Peter, impulsive Peter, speaks and plans an action. He is rebuked and told to listen. The test is not about action. The test is to listen.
Both Abraham and the disciples are called to listen. Abraham’s action is stopped by a message from God. Isaac is spared because Abraham listened for the ongoing word of God in the midst of the most awful moment of his life. Peter’s action is halted by the voice of God telling him to listen. The disciples listen but do not understand what Jesus tells them about his resurrection. But they do listen. How difficult is it for us to listen for the word of God amid the noise of daily life, the necessary and unnecessary chatter of work and home and all the places in between. How can we hear the word of God within the cacophony of our lives? We must listen. We listen by our intentional effort to create a place of peace and quiet within our lives that we maintain despite the noise that surrounds us. We build an ark to ride out the flood. We maintain a spring to survive in the desert. We hold dear our most sacred possession, the self that Jesus died to save, while still being willing to sacrifice it for God’s call.
Today’s Readings: Gn 22:1–2, 9a, 10–13, 15–18; Ps 116:10, 15, 16–17, 18–19; Rom 8:31b–34; Mk 9:2–10
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