« Last Sunday the liturgy presented to us Jesus tempted in the desert. Jesus vulnerable like any one of us but faithful to the Father.
« On the Second Sunday of Lent every year the liturgy presents to us Jesus’ transfiguration.
« So with the Liturgy of these two Sundays the Church puts in front of our eyes who Jesus is: the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity made flesh, made man.
FIRST READING – Gn 22:1-2.9.10-13.15-18.
Ø The cycle of Abraham in the book of Genesis ends with this account of the sacrifice of Isaac. A biblical story which awakens innumerable questions in our mind, and most of all in our heart. Probably because sometimes we read the biblical accounts literally, but we must seek the truth hidden in the story.
Ø I am going to mention here three different interpretations by three biblical scholars:
o According to one of them, the author has used a legend to convey to us a message about the meaning of faith, about the value of human life, and above all that God is the God of life who rejects human sacrifices.
o Another commentator thinks that Abraham, in his process of knowing the God who had spoken to him, had called him, and made promises to him, wants to offer to God what he loves the most. He wants to do that even if in doing so the promises would not be able to be fulfilled, but Abraham thinks that God will provide, that God knows better.
o A third one says that this story is about a believer who discovers the promise of a total salvation, through the winding road of the silence of God.
Ø The Old Testament presents God very often in a contradictory way, sometimes he is compassionate and tender, others he is demanding.
Ø The truth is that it is not God who is contradictory, but the faith of the human being, who in the process of growing in the knowledge of God gives answers which seem contradictory. The books of the Bible reflect this condition of the human being in his or her relationship with the Living God. The Bible is the book which tells us the story of God seeking man and woman, and the slow answer of humankind to God.
Ø Let us try to reflect on the theological richness of this biblical story.
Ø Abraham does not have Ishmael anymore, since he has sent away the mother with the child. His only hope for numerous discendents is Isaac.
Ø Abraham thinks or believes that God calls him and he answers “Here I am.”
Ø He thinks that God asks him to give his dear son, the son that God granted him one day. And in faithfulness he begins to answer to God.
Ø This will entail that the promises will not be fulfilled, Abraham will not have either the large descent, or the land, or the promises. Everything will be lost.
Ø Abraham will lose everything he has, all that has given strength to his faith, and he begins this new journey in complete darkness to accomplish what he thinks is the will of God. He will become then the father of all those who believe in the promises of God, who hope against hope.
Ø God stops Abraham. God detests and condemns the human sacrifices.
Ø Abraham does not sacrifice his son, instead he sacrifices an animal.
Ø The people of Israel, probably due to this story, understood that the first born had to be offered to God and redeemed by the offering of the sacrifice of an animal. The sacrifice of the lamb on the night of the Passover has the same meaning, the redemption of the first born. All of this is the image of Christ on the cross, the first born and the real lamb of God offered in sacrifice on the cross.
Ø We are called to live our faith, our loving relationship with God in all the circumstances of our life, those that are luminous and those that are deeply dark. When we are in darkness it is the time to show our unconditional love, faith without seeing, without light. These are the brightest moments of our life.
Ø Abraham understands that God does not want human sacrifices. The happiness of Abraham when he realized that he did not have to sacrifice Isaac, is reflected in the sentences “… because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son… I will bless you...
Ø Let us ask ourselves what is our Isaac? Are we ready and willing to give it to the Lord? Even if this entails a radical change in our life?
RESPONSORIAL PSALM 116:10.15.16-17.18-19
I WILL WALK IN THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING.
GOSPEL OF MARK 9:2-10
This reflection is taken from the book JESUS of Nazaret. of Joseph Ratzinger/ Pope Benedict XVI
Ø We are told that Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up onto a high mountain by themselves. We will come across these three again on the Mount of Olives during Jesus’ agony in the garden, which is the counterimage of the Transfiguration.
Ø Once again the mountain serves –as it did in the Sermon on the Mount and in the nights spent by Jesus in prayer- as the place of God’s particular closeness.
Ø We need to keep together the various mountains of Jesus’ life:
o The mountain of the temptation
o The mountain of his great preaching
o The mountain of his Transfiguration
o The mountain of his agony
o The mountain of the Cross
o The Mountain of the Risen Lord.
In the background we have also the Sinai and Moriah, the mountains of Old Testament Revelation.
Ø Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus
o What the Risen Lord will later explain to the disciples on the road to Emmaus is seen here in visible form. The Law and the Prophets speak with Jesus, they speak of Jesus. (the written revelation of the Old Testament and the full revelation JESUS written in the New Testament.
o The three disciples are shaken by what they see and experience. They are in ecstasy. They are terrified. Peter says something but without knowing exactly what to say. It is good… let us make three tents….
o This event according to some scholars takes place during the Feast of the Tabernacles(the tents.)
Ø And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice
o This is my beloved son, listen to him.
o The holy cloud the shekinab, the sign of the presence of God himself.
o The scene repeats that of Jesus’ Baptism, in which the Father himself speaking out of the cloud, had proclaimed Jesus as Son: You are my beloved Son.
o The solemn proclamation of the sonship of Jesus is followed by the command “Listen to Him.”
o Jesus Himself has become the divine Word of revelation. Jesus himself is the Torah
Ø This one command brings the theophny to its conclusion and sums up its deepest meaning.
Ø The disciples must accompany Jesus back down the mountain and learn ever anew to “listen to him.”
Is it not the same thing with our own experiences of God? The experience, our being on the mountain of the transfiguration will help us to listen to the Lord in our daily life.
SECOND READING FROM THE LETTER OF PAUL TO THE ROMANS 8:31-34
With this hymn to the love of God, Paul ends the central section of his letter to the Romans.
The dark faith of Abraham, on his journey to Mount Moriah, the place of the sacrifice of his son, the sacrifice of all his hopes, is the same faith which is sung in this hymn by Paul.
o Who will be against us? Who will accuse us? Who will condemn us?
If God is with us and for us nothing will harm us.
- Carta de los Orígenes de las RR. De María Inmaculada Misioneras Claretianas. Madrid 2009.
- GUILLÉN TORRALBA, Juan, “Génesis” en Comentario al Antiguo Testamento I. La Casa de la Biblia, Estella Navarra, 1997.
- LA BIBLIA DE NUESTRO PUEBLO, comentarios de Luis Alonso Schökel. Misioneros Claretianos, 2010.
- LOZANO, Juan Manuel, Escritos(Writings) María Antonia París, Estudio crítico, “El Misionero Apostólico- The Apostolic Missionary.” Barcelona 1985.
- RATZINGER, Joseph (Benedict XVI), Jesus of Nazareth. New York, 2007.
- RAVASI, GIANFRANCO. Según las Escrituras. Doble Comentario de las lecturas del domingo. Año B. San Pablo, Bogotá,Colombia 2005.
- VIÑAS, José María cmf y BERMEJO, Jesús, cmf. Autobiography of Saint Anthony Mary Claret.
And so it has happened in this foundation, that though the Archbishop was unwilling to be concerned for this or that, he has been, by Divine impulse, concerned for everything, because I have never expressed a desire of mine except when I have been asked. I think that my silence itself gave place to them to ask me, and God put in them more desire to advance the work, more than what I manifested, because this is the way of God in this work. I say this for the new ones coming to us, to learn how to hope in God against all hope. (Maria Antonia Paris, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 218.)
A man stepped forward, as if to kiss my ring, when suddenly his arm flew back and he brought the razor he was holding down upon me with all his might. I had my head down and was touching a handkerchief to my mouth with my right hand, and so, instead of slitting my throat as he had intended, he slashed my face across the left cheek, from the ear to the chin. The razor also caught and wounded my right arm in passing because I was holding it up to my mouth.
O, Most Holy Father! I do not find words to explain how much love and tenderness Jesus and Mary gave me that night! (St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters. Autobiography 585, Letter to Pius IX, in Carta de los Orígenes 51. Madrid 2009.)