Lectionary Reflection: Second Sunday of lent
- Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
- Romans 8:31b-34
- Mark 9:2-10
Thoughts for your consideration:
This Sunday we are asked to see things in a new way. Although the apostles have been with Jesus for a while now there is nothing that can quite prepare them for the ultimate cosmological experience of the Resurrection. It is not an accident that Mark places the transfiguration story right after Jesus makes his first announcement that he will die. No sooner does he make this announcement when Peter balks at the idea. Jesus realizes that asking his disciples to follow him in what appears to be an absolute social tragedy is going to be a hard sell. In the case of the apostles their limited human perspective was going to require some divine intervention if the gospel story of God’s ultimate love of humanity through the death and resurrection of Jesus was going to make any sense.
As expected Peter, James and John were dumbfounded by the experience. They know not what to do and Peter awkwardly offers to build tents. But the experience fulfilled its purpose. It allowed the three leaders of the disciples to be open to the great divine mystery that was unfolding. They accepted a new cosmology whereby God would reconcile himself with our humanity, even though they could not understand this. But whenever Jesus again discusses the mystery of his death and Resurrection, the apostles (probably looking toward Peter to speak up as he did the first time) accept what they obviously do not understand.
Abraham goes through a very similar story. He is faithful to the one God and through God’s intercession his only son was born. But now God begins to act like the other Canaanite gods. He demands blood sacrifice from his first-born son. This is a typical ritual, tribal covenants and divine allegiances were often sealed through the blood sacrifice. So Abraham goes to fulfill his social responsibility. But at the moment where Abraham, who is at this point full of sorrow, is ready to deliver the blow the angel of the Lord stops him. Abraham is challenged to see his relationship with the Divine author of creation from a new lens.
Ultimately God is a God of life and that is what we believe through faith. However, because of the reality of sin and injustice in our world, this new life will come after a painful journey where we purge ourselves from the social and material values of our world. Catholic social teaching describes to us the lens of the common good, solidarity and Care for the Earth. Philosophically many of us can accept these principles as good and worthy of pursuit, but can we really know the full impact of what they mean. Can we accept the implied sacrifices that it will take for us to live our lives in a way that truly consistent with these principles. Can we really see the world as a global community and can we identify the entire human community as our brothers and sisters.
In his message on January 1 Pope Benedict XVI wrote “The recent crisis demonstrates how financial activity can at times be completely turned in on itself, lacking any long-term consideration of the common good.” Maybe we have to see our economic system in a new way (especially in light of the current fiscal problems) as something more directed to the common good of all and not the enrichment of the few.
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group:
- How has your awareness and commitment to Christian values changed over the years?
- How have you grown in your commitment to social issues?
- To issues of peace and justice?
- This Lent, how is God calling you to see things in a new way – from a new point of view?
- What is your experience of working with immigrants and refugees?
- Do you know any? How have they taught you to know or see?