Gospel Reflection: Second Sunday in Lent

Reading 1

Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, "Abraham!"
"Here I am!" he replied.
Then God said:
"Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a holocaust
on a height that I will point out to you."

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD's messenger called to him from heaven,
"Abraham, Abraham!"
"Here I am!" he answered.
"Do not lay your hand on the boy," said the messenger.
"Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son."
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Again the LORD's messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
"I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessing—
all this because you obeyed my command."


Mk 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John
and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them,
and his clothes became dazzling white,
such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.
Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,
and they were conversing with Jesus.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
"Rabbi, it is good that we are here!
Let us make three tents:
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;
from the cloud came a voice,
"This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."
Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone
but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone,
except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
So they kept the matter to themselves,
questioning what rising from the dead meant.


In today’s readings, we encounter two transformative experiences, both occurring on a mountain.

In the First Reading, we delve into Abraham's obedience to God’s command to sacrifice his son, Isaac. After many years of praying for a son, Abraham and Sara finally conceive Isaac. Now, God is asking Abraham to offer him in sacrifice. The first part of today’s psalm likely echoes Abraham’s emotions as he ascends the mountain with Isaac, “I believed, even when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted.’”

Abraham, now known as the father of faith, earned this title because he wholeheartedly trusted God, even when His commands demanded the sacrifice of whom he loved most. Abraham understood that he trusted a loving God who would provide all his needs. And indeed, God provided a ram in lieu of his son for the sacrifice.

We can envision a transformed Abraham descending the mountain with Isaac beside him, filled with joy, relief, and wonder. God rewarded Abraham for his faith and obedience, not only with Isaac but with countless descendants and a blessing for all nations through his descendants.

In the Gospel, we see Jesus inviting three of his disciples – Peter, James, and John – to a mountain where He is transfigured before them. They are astounded as they see Jesus conversing with Elijah and Moses. Then, God Himself reveals to them that Jesus is His beloved Son and commands them to “listen to Him,” removing any doubt in their hearts about Jesus’ identity. Here again, we see the value God places on listening and obeying.

We can imagine a transformed Peter, James, and John descending the mountain after their experience, pondering its significance, their selection as witnesses, and the temporary secrecy of their experience. But one truth is firmly established in their hearts – Jesus was truly who He said He was – the Son of God, and they must heed His words.

The Church invites us during this Lenten season, symbolically, to ascend the mountain of faith through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. These spiritual exercises makes us more receptive to God’s grace, enabling us to hear His voice more clearly and to see with the eyes of faith that Jesus is in our midst. And so, I pray that as we continue to journey together on this Second Sunday of Lent, we can persevere and trust in God’s work within our souls.

Please be assured of my prayers before Our Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

+ Bishop Schlert


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