Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Little Something Extra...Second Sunday of Lent

Fathers and Sons

Today's readings explore the relationships between fathers and sons: human fathers and sons; the divine Father and Son; and especially God the Father and His human children.

First Reading – Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

Abraham loves his son Isaac, but he loves God even more. When God asks Abraham to offer Isaac as a holocaust to Him, Abraham obeys. He takes Isaac to the place of sacrifice, builds an altar, picks up a knife, and goes so far as to reach out to slay his son before God stops him.

Even in the midst of what must be horrible pain and sorrow, Abraham trusts God. As Abraham and Isaac are walking up the mountain at Moriah, Isaac asks Abraham, “Father...where is the sheep for the holocaust?” “Son,” Abraham answers, “God Himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust.” Abraham has hope, hope that God will intervene before he actually has to kill his beloved boy, hope that God will provide an alternative sacrifice, hope, as the Letter to the Hebrews suggests, that God will even raise his son from the dead if necessary (see Hebrews 11:17-20).

In any case, as much as Abraham loves his son, Isaac, he knows that he must choose God's way, whatever that may be, and trust that God will make the situation turn out right in the end, which He does.

May saints and scholars have identified Abraham and Isaac as types or symbols of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. Our divine Father sacrificed His own Son for us. He may have prevented Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, He did not stop Himself. He gave His own Son, Whom He loves more than we can imagine, that through the Son's suffering, death, and resurrection, we might also become the Father's beloved children.

Second Reading – Romans 8:31b-34

This reading reminds us again that God did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for all of us. Imagine the Father's pain when Jesus was being beaten and hung on the cross. He knew His divine plan. He knew His Son would rise again. Nevertheless, He loved His Son so much that to see Him suffer and die must have caused the Father's heart to break.

But the Father loves us, too, and He wants us with Him in heaven forever, so He gave His only Son that we might have eternal life (John 3:16). We are also His beloved children, sons in the Son, and His beloved Firstborn Son now sits at His right hand, interceding for us that we may have all we need in this life and in eternal life.

Gospel – Mark 9:2-10

In today's Gospel, we hear the Father as He verbally expresses His love for His Son, Jesus Christ, God-made-Man. Jesus is transfigured on the mountain top, and His clothes shine dazzlingly white. Moses and Elijah appear and speak with Jesus. Peter, James, and John are terrified. Then a cloud passes over, not just any cloud but God's glory cloud, the shekinah. A voice booms out: “This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him.”

This is the second time the Father has spoken these words. He did so first at Jesus' baptism, but He wants to make sure the disciples get the point. They must hear and know the love of the Father for the Son. They must know Who Jesus really is, the divine Son of the divine Father, Who will make them sons of their heavenly Father and heirs to the kingdom of Heaven.

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