February 20, 2018
On this second Sunday of Lent we are invited to do two things: Pray and Listen. In the first reading Abraham is invited by God to sacrifice his only son. In the Gospel narrative Jesus takes three of his closest disciples up a high mountain and, "he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them."
Abraham faces a terrible dilemma. If he goes through with the sacrifice, he will cut off not only his beloved son but also the promise associated with Isaac. Just when Abraham is about to carry out the terrible deed of killing his beloved son, God substitutes an animal for sacrifice. Thus Isaac and God’s promises are both preserved. But with Abraham’s act of faith, his trust in God’s promise and his obedience to God’s word, there begins the history of God’s covenantal relationship with Israel and the history of our salvation.
We don’t know clearly what happened at the Transfiguration, but it has clear connections with the agony in the garden and with the baptism of Christ in the Jordan. Jesus always does the will of His Father, but we also know that Jesus struggles with that will at times.
Lent is a time when we want to purify our lives. We want to be faithful to God and recognize that by our own powers, we cannot be faithful. As Paul reminds us: "If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?"