Second Sunday in Lent
Gen 22:1-2, 9-13, 15-18
The first reading from Genesis is a difficult one because we find Abraham believing that God wants him to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. Child sacrifice was a reality at the time of Abraham and one practiced by his neighbors the Canaanites. Abraham is a man of strong faith even though the request from God to kill his son is an erroneous one, in reality an immoral one. The real point of the story is Abraham’s willingness to always do God’s will, no matter how difficult.
Paul tells us in Romans that God “did not spare his own son but handed him over for the sake of us all.” As people of faith, we know that God did not cause Jesus’ death. Human weakness that included anger, fear, jealousy, betrayal, untruth and mob violence were the causes. Putting it bluntly, Jesus’ death was caused by human sinfulness.
Looking back at last January 6th, we can see these same motivations alive and well today. Not much has changed in 2000 years. Misunderstanding, lack of compassion and empathy, misleading leadership and other kinds of human weakness can lead us on false paths.
We need to ask ourselves why we humans don’t always choose what is good and what is right? We have free will and the choices we make have motivation behind them. What motivates us to act the way we act? We can’t be forced to choose the good, but if we are open to grace and the voice of God deep within us, we can make good choices. God is always calling us to conversion of mind and heart.
The Gospel of Mark shows us the opposite trajectory when the transfiguration of Jesus is described. Peter, James and John accompany Jesus up a high mountain. They see Jesus “transfigured before them, his clothes became dazzling white…” They not only see this unbelievable sight but then two of the prophets, Elijah and Moses are seen talking to Jesus. The final unbelievable thing happens. They are overshadowed by a cloud and hear a voice saying, “This is my Son, the beloved; listen to him!”
After this amazing experience they have to return to their real lives. They now know Jesus is extraordinarily special, the Son of God. They now know their lives will never be the same. The motivation for all they do in the future will be because of their commitment to Jesus. Do they make mistakes? Yes. But they know they have to begin again and again to recommit to what is the core of their lives – love for and commitment to Jesus.
There are times in our lives when we may doubt what God wants of us. In what ways are we to live our lives as committed Christians? Do we make mistakes? Yes. We begin again and again to recommit to God who calls us to be the best person we can be. We try to make choices that make our world a better place for those we love and all the people who come in contact with us.
The readings from today tell us to always seek God’s will for us. We are encouraged to believe that we can be transfigured by our belief in the God who loves us deeply. We can experience a deepening in our relationship with God and others when we try to make choices that help us grow in holiness and wholeness.
When have you made choices motivated by the wrong thing? What were the results?
How can you deepen your awareness of what God is asking of you in your daily life?