« On the first Sunday of Lent we contemplated Jesus tempted, to help us to see his vulnerability as a member of the human race.
« In the second Sunday we are invited to contemplate his glory, his divine being.
« We need to meditate and contemplate both realities to able to follow the Lord unconditionally.
FIRST READING – Gen 22:1-2.9.10-13.15-18.
Ø The cycle of Abraham ends with the story of the sacrifice of Isaac. Frightening story which poses a great number of questions, probably because we read it literally, in a fundamentalist way.
Ø According to a commentator the biblical author uses a legend to give a message on the meaning of faith, on the value of life and that God is the God of life, and does not want human sacrifices. A legend which fits well with the behavior of Abraham.
Ø Another commentator thinks that Abraham in his process of learning to know God who has spoken to him, has called him and has made promises to him, wants to offer to God the best he has, even if this entails that the promises will not be able to be fulfilled, or God will provide.
Ø A third commentator says that the story is about a believer who discovers, through the tortuous way of the divine silence, the promise of a complete salvation.
Ø In the Old Testament God is portrayed in contradictory ways, sometimes with the tenderness of a parent and other times with great rigor. Sometimes God promises and later on asks to do something different.
Ø In truth it is not God who is ambivalent, but the faith of human being who in his/her process of maturing understands God better little by little. This is what the writings of the different authors of the Old Testament reflect. The Bible is in truth the story about God who seeks the human being, and the slow and sometimes contradictory response of that same human being.
Ø Let us try to draw something from the great theological richness of this text, to nurture our faith.
Ø Abraham does not have Ishmael anymore because he has sent away the mother with the child. The warranty of having descendants rests now on Isaac.
Ø Abraham understands o believes that God calls him and he responds quickly “Here I am.”
Ø He thinks that God wants him to sacrifice his son that he gave to him. And he makes himself ready to fulfill God’s order.
Ø But this will entail that the promises will not be able to be fulfilled, there will be neither descendants nor land, nor promises. Everything will be over.
Ø Abraham will lose what is the support of his faith, and in the darkness of her heart he is ready to execute what he believes is the will of God, and thus he will become the father of all believers from all times, who will trust even without seeing, who will hope against hope.
Ø God stops the arm of Abraham. God condemns the sacrifice of children or of any other human being.
Ø Abraham, guided by God, does not sacrifice his son and instead he offers a goat
Ø The people of Israel, influenced maybe by this account, understood that the first born belongs to God, and thus they recue him offering a sacrifice, the paschal lamb on the night of the Passover. Like Abraham who offered the sacrifice of a sheep in place of his son. Remember also the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, the parents offer two turtle-doves and two pigeons as a ransom for the son.
Ø We are called to live our faith, our intimate relationship with God in every situation of our life, in the light and in the darkness when everything seems lost and we are alone facing the abyss. This is the moment of unconditional love, of faith without seeing without light. Truly it is the most shining moment of our life.
Ø Abraham understands that God does not want human sacrifices. The happiness he experiences when God stops his hand, seems to be reflected in the words “for having done this, for not having denied your only son to me… because you have obeyed…
Ø I transcribe beneath something I have read and which I find very interesting and clarifying. The author of the book According to the Scriptures quotes from the book Temor y Temblor of the Danish philosopher S. Kierkegaard the following words:
“When the child has to be weaned, the mother dyes her breast with dark color. It would be cruel if the breast continued to be desirable when the child has to be weaned. Thus the child thinks that the breast has changed. But the mother has not changed at all, she continues to be the same, her eyes are filled with tenderness and love, precisely in the moment when she takes away the child from her to help him or her grow.”
Ø There are two important points in Abraham’s story: the faith of Abraham, the call to a trusting faith in Yahweh, and the name of the mount “The Lord will provide” which continues to be a profession of unconditional faith in the God of the promises.
Ø Who is our Isaac? Are we willing to give it to the Lord? Even if this entails a radical change in our life? Or, maybe it will require the acceptance of darkness that frightens us, because we think that in darkness we are without the Lord? but the truth is that he is always there.
SALMO RESPONSORIAL 116,10.15.16-17.18-19
I WILL WALK BEFORE THE LORD IN THE LAND OF THE LIVING
I believed even when I said
I am greatly afflicted
Precious in the eyes of the Lord
Is the death of his faithful ones
O Lord, I am your servant
The son of your handmaid
You have loosed my bonds
To you will I offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving
And I will call upon the name of the Lord.
My vows to the Lord I will pay
In the presence of all his people
In the courts of the house of the Lord
In your midst, O Jerusalem!
ü The words of the first stanza might reflect the feelings that filled the heart of Abraham when he thought that God wanted him to sacrifice Isaac.
ü In the second stanza, the author declares himself the servant of the Lord who has loosen his bonds. Yes the Lord broke the chains, freed Abraham from anguish, when he revealed to him that he was not asking for the life of his son.
ü His reacts with joy and thanksgiving “I will offer to you a sacrifice of praise, I will invoke your name.”
ü Thus he will sing, he will be faithful and trustful in the Lord in the midst of the faith community.
GOSPEL OF MARK 9:2-10
Ø Six days after the first announcement of his passion, Jesus is transfigured in the presence of his disciples, as a announcement of his glorious resurrection.
Ø The two magnificent pictures that today’s liturgy offers to us happened on a mountain. In the first narration from the Old Testament it is Mount Moriah which the tradition identifies symbolically with mount Zion where the temple of Jerusalem was built.
Ø Moses represents the LAW and Eliah the PROPHETS (The Hebrew Scriptures are organized into two sections the Law and the Prophets).
Ø Jesus takes with him to the mountain Peter, James and John, they will also be with him during his agony in the garden, during his defeat and vulnerability like every other human being. These men will be able to testify to Jesus man and God.
Ø Peter, as usual speaks in the name of the other disciples. How good it is to be here Lord! To be in the glory without passing through the darkness of faith, the cross, the desolation. Peter does not want that Jesus go back to where they came from, it is better to stay here, we will build the necessary tents.
Ø Again the voice from heaven is Heard “This is my beloved son, listen to him
Ø In two different occasions the Father tells us that Jesus is his beloved son. Moments when we are reminded of the glory of this son, who in the daily life is not noticed and he is considered as a simple and poor man. These occasions are: his baptism and his transfiguration.
Ø The cloud reminds to us the cloud that covered the meeting tent in the desert. The cloud which is the symbol of the presence of God. From the cloud the voice is heard, the disciples are frightened.
Ø But when they lift up their eyes, they see only Jesus.
Ø He tells them, do not say what has happened to anyone. Why? Because they will not understand until the resurrection, then you will say it, now is not the time.
Ø Like the disciples, we also wish to be in the glory, in the joy without passing through the darkness of faith, through the difficult way in the following of the Lord who goes to the cross.
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.
The dark faith of Abraham, in his journey to Mount Moriah, the place of his son’s sacrifice, the sacrifice of all his hopes, is the trusting faith of this hymn.
o Who will be against us? Who will accuse us? Who will condemn us?
o If God is with us nothing and nobody can harm us.
This is the security of the believer, even if everything around him or her shout something different. Nothing and nobody will separate us form the unconditional love of God in Christ Jesus.
BIBLIOGRAPHYGUILLÉN 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 María Antonia París, Estudio crítico, “El Misionero Apostólico”. Barcelona 1985.
- 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. “Autobiografía ” de San Antonio María Claret.
God was preparing me with so many troubles to receive the great, the indescribable joy which had to flood my soul with the arrival of the Bull from Rome on July 16, 1855, as rapidly as I was expecting and I had told the Archbishop every time he presented me so many difficulties.
The fights and quarrels, tears and sighs that the foundation of this first house is costing me. Only God, who is pleased with the sighs of a heart distressed for his love, knows them.
When the Royal permission came from Madrid, the Archbishop and the procurator saw the mistake that they despised before as the advice of- in their opinion – an ignorant and hallucinated woman.
The procurator came to read the Royal permission to me in the parlor and, without paying attention to the laws, he fixed the day for my profession, but I, without contradicting him was laughing inside, because even though I am unlearned, God had told me already how they had to proceed in these things and I was sure that my profession depended on or had to come from Rome, but this, in the opinion of the procurator , was a heresy. (María Antonia París, Foundress of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 202-204)
With the help of the Vicar General I got rid of many grave abuses in chaplaincies. I saw to it that those chaplaincies I could dispose of were awarded to native sons of good character who were resident seminarians and showed some expectations of eventually becoming good pastors.
I increased the number of parishes and saw to it that pastors taught Christian doctrine and either preached or read to the people every Sunday.
I established the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and, from the very outset of my stay in Cuba, insisted that seminarians be sent about to all the churches of the diocese to teach Christian doctrine. Every Sunday we had a children's procession, which used to stop in the courtyard of the church, where two tables had been set up, facing each other. A child would get up on each of these tables and in their clear, high voices ask each other their catechism questions. The first two would be followed by two others, and so on. The people who crowded around just for the novelty of it would also learn some sorely needed Christian doctrine in the process.
I also established a convent of nuns dedicated to teaching girls, and I bought them a house that cost me about 12,000 duross. (Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Claretian Missionary Sisters, Autobiography 558-561)