SUNDAY, SECOND WEEK OF LENT
Reading 1: Gen 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18 God asks Abraham to offer in sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. Abraham’s obedience was complete. He was ready to sacrifice his son according to the wish of God, until when the Lord stopped him.
Reading 2: Rom 8:31-34 St. Paul tells us that God did not spare his own Son but handed him over to death for the sake of all of us.
Gospel: Mk 9:2-10 Jesus is transfigured before the eyes of three of his apostles on Mount Tabor. This glimpse of his glory was meant to sustain their faith in him during his passion and death.
SACRIFICE IS THE WAY TO GLORY
Abraham is called the father of faith because he was willing to sacrifice his only beloved son Isaac in obedience to the will of God. But God spares the blood of Isaac, and, looking at the great faith of Abraham, embraces him and his descendants as his own, and promises them everlasting glory. However, the sacrifice has to be completed and Abraham finds a ram caught up in a bush for the same. We see a similar instance in the New Testament when God offers his only beloved son to be crucified, that humanity may be saved, and receive eternal glory and salvation. The readings today portray two sons: Isaac, the son of Abraham, and Jesus Christ, the son of God. One (Isaac) is saved, while the other (Jesus) is sacrificed on the mountain, one needs redemption and the other is the redeemer; the sacrifice of one saves the other, and the very same sacrifice leads to glory.
This is very much vivid in today’s Gospel which presents us with the event of the transfiguration of our Lord. We find the event of the transfiguration in all the three synoptic gospels, and in all the places, the passion prediction of Jesus goes just before and after the scene of the transfiguration. It was on the top of the mountain that the transfiguration took place, an event which foreshadows the glory of the resurrection which has been offered to all of us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A glimpse of this wonderful glory experienced by Peter, makes him persuade Jesus to stay atop the mountain of glory, and he even offers to build three tents for the Master, the LawGiver and the Prophet. But when Jesus presents these passion predictions, he makes it clear that it is not that easy to achieve this glory, and that they will have to sacrifice this present glory to achieve the eternal glory. Indeed, this mount of glory is awaiting us, but not until we have passed through the mount of sorrow. And this Jesus showed us when he bore the excruciating passion and death on the cross at Mount Calvary.
We are blessed with the gift of salvation, but we also have to remember that salvation has been won for us at the cost of a great sacrifice, which is the blood of Jesus Christ. There is no other way towards salvation than that shown and walked by the Lord. When we decide to walk on this path of salvation, we cannot think of taking a shortcut by making compromises, because there isn’t one. All those who want to achieve this glory have to first accept the cross and follow Jesus as he asks of us: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mt 16:24). And, therefore, the image of the cross, a symbol of horror and death, becomes for us Christians a symbol of glory. The cross becomes the altar on which the sacrifice was offered and the glory received.
To sacrifice is perhaps the most difficult thing to do for most of us. We like to be in our comfort zones like Peter, who found one on the top of the mountain where Jesus was transfigured. But these comfort zones of ours are temporary, and therefore we need to learn to sacrifice them and embrace the crosses that our life has to offer. St Paul, in the second reading, assures us that when we accept the will of God, and make an effort to sacrifice our comfort zones and carry our crosses, the Lord will walk with us, and help us to carry the burden of our lives: : “With God on our side, who can be against us?”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 116:10, 15-19 I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.
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