Home » Gospel Reflection – 28th February 2021 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Gospel Reflection – 28th February 2021 – 2nd Sunday of Lent

Dear sisters and brothers,

In this Sunday’s readings we are presented with three mountain top experiences.  The sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah; Jesus’ Transfiguration on Mount Tabor; and Paul’s reflection on Jesus’ crucifixion on Calvary, a part of the same mountain range as Mount Moriah.

On Mount Moriah, Abraham reveals how deep his faith in God has gone.  Isaac is the son of his old age through whom God had promised that Abraham’s descendants would be as many as the number of stars in the sky and grains of sand on the seashore.  On this boy, Abraham’s longed for future depended, and yet he was willing to be obedient to the Lord even in this greatest test that anyone could be put through.

However, this isn’t just about Abraham.  Sometimes we have an image of Isaac as a very small child being bound by his father and lifted onto the pyre, but in reality he was at least in his mid-teens: he carried the wood for the fire himself; he allowed Abraham to bind him without a struggle; and he presumably laid down on the pyre himself as I’d imagine that he was too heavy for 99 year old Abraham to lift into place.  Does this ring any bells?  What other Son of a Father carried the wood on which he would be sacrificed to the place of sacrifice, and willingly went along with his Father’s plan?  Yes, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Isaac’s selfless participation in the sacrifice reflects his obedience and faith just as much as Abraham’s, and is a pre cursor for the self-sacrifice of Christ.  And Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son is a foreshadowing of the sacrifice that God the Father will make of his own much beloved Son.   As we journey through Lent, this passage is reminding us of the day at the heart of the Triduum for which we are preparing, Good Friday.

And St Paul, in his letter to the Romans, reminds us what Jesus’ self-sacrifice on Calvary was all about.  He writes: “God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all”.  What was that benefit?  Paul tells us that Jesus was given as a gift that each of us might be acquitted of our sins on the day of judgement, rather than condemned.  Because, as St Paul concludes, Jesus “not only died for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us”.  However, remember that Abraham and Isaac are both pre cursors for us as well as of Jesus.  As they trusted the Lord even unto death themselves, we are given this season of Lent to grow in trust and faith in God ourselves, to become ever more obedient to him, that we might claim that acquittal won for us on the Cross, rather than take it for granted.  God’s desire for us to grow in our faith is second only to Jesus giving of himself on the Cross.

And today’s final mountain is Tabor, where Jesus, prior to his death and resurrection is transfigured.  Three select apostles are given a glimpse of what Jesus resurrection will look like ahead of time.  Why?  To strengthen that same trust, faith and obedience in God, in Jesus himself as they hear the words spoken by the Father: “this is my Son, the Beloved Son. Listen to him!”  They try to capture this moment and hold onto it forever, but, for the fulness of the resurrection to come to pass for Jesus and for all of us, that couldn’t be allowed to happen.  Jesus had to go through his Calvary experience to enable the resurrection to happen, so that he in turn might lead us through our own deaths to the resurrection that he has prepared for each of us.

But that promise doesn’t mean that we can live our lives as we want on earth, ignoring the commandments that God has given us in choosing to suit ourselves.  No; the story of Abraham and Isaac, the story of Moses and Elijah with whom Jesus conversed on Mount Tabor, the story of Peter, James and John, and the story of Paul, all point to God’s expectation that we will choose to grow in the same trust, faith and obedience that they lived their lives by, more and more each day, with these six weeks of Lent gifted to us as a time for us to focus on that expectation.  So, let’s use these weeks wisely.

With every blessing,

Simon