The Second Sunday in Lent
25 February 2018 At Saint Peter and Saint William Churches in Naples, FL
Genesis 22, 1-2,9, 10-13, 15-19 + Psalm 116 + Romans 8, 31034 + Mark 9, 2-10
In the first reading today, we must not be distracted by Isaac and his traumatic experience. That story is about Abraham. It is somewhat the same with the Gospel today. That story is about those apostles, it is not about Jesus. That voice speaks to the Apostles. Jesus already heard that voice at his Baptism.
Everything Abraham had was given to him by God. Everything, including that son who came late and marvelously into the life of Abraham and Sarah. What God asks is that Abraham return to God absolutely everything God has given him. “Do you love me enough to give it all back?” This is what God is saying to the man who once left everything at God’s request and headed out into the unknown. “Will you give back what I have given you?” This is a stunning and challenging request, and Abraham is not the only one called by God in this way. We should sit here with a little discomfort at the realization of what this story is about because the living Word of God is spoken alive again in this place.
It is the same with Jesus Christ. In his prayer at the Last Supper he acknowledges that everything he has comes from the Father, and his deepest desire is to return it all to the Father and not lose anything the Father has given him. Peter, James, and John are the ones really transfigured on that mountain. Their lives, their faith, their hopes and dreams are now all caught up in this one who remains with them. They are now the ones being put to the test. Like Abraham, they have climbed a mountain and have heard the voice that calls out to them asking only one thing. “Will you give back to me everything I have given you?” They are now coming to realize slowly that this is what God asks of them, because this is what God asks of Jesus. Eventually, they will give back Jesus himself, and like Jesus, they will then give back to God their very lives.
My friends, there is no denial or avoiding the truth that this is what God asks of us as well. This season of Lent takes us to the test. It tests our resolve to give up and give back. A time of rehearsal, as it were, a time of testing that will prove what we are made of and how much we love the God who has given us everything.