Reflections

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT (2021)

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT (2021)

Readings:Genesis 22:1-2,9-13,15-18Psalms 116:10, 15-19Romans 8:31-34Mark 8:2-10

The first reading from the Book of Genesis is particularly unnerving, raising as it does a variety of questions which are nearly impossible to answer. Would God ask anyone to sacrifice their own son? Was the outcome planned in advance? Had God been busy, and Abraham followed through with the sacrifice of his only son, would there have been an “oops” moment, “I meant to get back to you sooner”?
Abraham and God had a special relationship, a covenant relationship, not unlike the covenant God made with Noah in last Sunday’s first reading. In God’s covenant, Abraham’s name was changed from Abram, and his trust in God was unshakable. For us, we do not need to interpret the genre of Genesis literally. It is enough for us to come away from the reading catching a glimpse of that kind of trust which is willing to do anything that God asks, knowing, trusting, that it could only be something that is in accord with God’s will. It is the kind of trust echoed in our second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” God’s promises to Abraham – “in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing” – in the Son who would be delivered up to death, that all might enjoy eternal life.
Today’s gospel account of the Transfiguration gives us, and more importantly the disciples, a glimpse of the glory to be revealed during Jesus’ earthly life. The Transfiguration in Mark’s gospel happens only six days after Jesus first speaks of His coming Passion (Mk 8:30f.), something we recall that made Peter very unsettled. It is not improper to see in Jesus’ Transfiguration before Peter, James, and John, a balance to the disturbing (and not fully understood) first prediction of His suffering and death.
Australian Cistercian, Michael Casey, points out that “in standard icons of the Transfiguration, mostly following the sixth-century representation in the apse of Saint Catherine’s Monastery at Sinai, there is a clear division between the top half and the lower. In the upper portion of the icon, the glorified Jesus is shown accompanied by Moses and Elijah. Beneath this, the three disciples are depicted, each in a distinctive attitude. Peter is shown gazing upward in an embodiment of his words, “It is good for us to be here.” Another disciple is shown confused and falling away, often depicted as losing a sandal in the process. The third is beginning to run away. Three responses: delight, fright, flight.Whenever we are touched by an outreaching of the spiritual world our response is not dissimilar to that of the disciples.”
Imagine being present on Mount Tabor to witness this transformation of the ordinary guy from Nazareth. We too might vacillate between delight, fright, and flight, for it would be nothing like anything we had ever seen before. Had the disciples been standing by the side of the River Jordan at Jesus’s baptism, they might have seen the similarities between the voice from heaven which proclaimed, “This is my beloved Son,” and they were already doing their best to “listen to Him!” The delight of Peter would have set up three tents for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, for then Peter and the others could wallow in the joy-filled moment indefinitely. But the moment was over, and it was time to go back down the mountain, keeping to themselves this extraordinary moment.
The time for witnessing is off the glorious mountain. The time for witnessing is in the dirty and dusty roads of Galilee that will lead Jesus and the disciples to Jerusalem, where the fulfillment of God’s plan, conceived in eternity, would come to fruition. Who wouldn’t want to wallow in the more glorious, more joyful moments of life, but the challenges the world offers gives us the best moments to give witness, for there the unflinching trust shown by Abraham in his God, is the same trust displayed by the apostles and saints who have gone before us. Our encounters with Jesus are only meant to bring “delight,” not “fright” or “flight,” and we have the opportunity to draw as close to our awesome God as is humanly possible in the Eucharist. When the pandemic ends, and it will end, perhaps we will have a better appreciation of the precious opportunity we have in the Eucharist to bolster our faith and strengthen our trust in the God who saved Isaac from the knife, and the God who saves us from all that could harm us.

1 thought on “SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT (2021)”

  1. It is hard to imagine  what I might have  thought if Jesus had been transfigured before my own eyes. Maybe it would be like seeing  someone we know actually ‘ transformed’ Or in the way they look?? It might make me feel happiness for them  ——-or ? a girl from my  high school class just died     I didn’t know her very well since we had large class—– but I do remember her…………..  they sent her death notice on line……and I copied it………….. sitting looking at her picture I think  of her when she was young………….. and now in her 80’s she has died — but i remember still see the same girl and same face as I read about her life……. and her many accomplishments and the good that she did  with her life- If we read about Jesus and find out more about him—- maybe  that will transform us too?  Then we share it with others……………….

    To know that this Jesus is the Son of God……..our life is changed…….and once we know that— …..and we have ‘work’ to do……………telling others about Him! And how He can change our lives. One way  to draw closer to Jesus is receiving the eucharist    —                      but I have not received Eucharist since the pandemic  has restricted our  being in crowds…..e g  at church–…..and I have not gone to  church………………. so I look for and receive and  find Jesus in  the people I do  communicate with   –maybe they  look for Him in me?

    Maybe we can all be ‘ transformed’ if we know more about Jesus and try  to imitate him  or learn from Him? Maybe we should not be too content with the way we are=== and hope to  be transformed ===so we can do some much needed happy work  of telling  others about Him? We are all Gods daughters and sons—and we want to hear the words  This is my beloved Son— listen to him! For me– Eucharist is not only receiving the   bread and wine…………………but also — it is finding Jesus in  the people we meet  and in those who need Jesus—-and looking for Him in the streets and in  everyone we meet ! Of course I look forward to  receiving the Lord in Eucharist again too!   It seems to be ‘helpful’ in doing the work!  Time to  be transformed — not easy!  That is perhaps why we are still here? Thank you for your inspiration …mary jo

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