Second Sunday of Lent, Year B
Genesis 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18
Psalm 116:10, 15, 16-17, 18-19 (9)
February 28, 2021
“God put Abraham to the test,” and it was no easy test!
Abraham had waited for many years to have a son. When Isaac was finally born, Abraham loved him deeply and recognized him as a gift from God.
The test…God said to Abraham, “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.”
Wow! This is no small request. How could God ask such a thing?
What was Abraham’s response? He set about doing what God had directed. Abraham trusted God. So, he went “to the place of which God had told him.”
He set up the altar. He prepared everything. He even had the knife in his hand. It was at that point that God stopped him. The Lord’s messenger said, “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.”
Yes, Abraham was devoted to God. However, it was God who provided the actual sacrifice that day with the ram. God provides the sacrifice even today. In the Eucharist at Mass, we celebrate the sacrifice of Jesus giving his life for us.
This does not mean life in this world is easy. Is there anything you are withholding from God? Hand it over to him as a sacrifice and He “will bless you abundantly.”
God is with us. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” We can count on God knowing that, “He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all.”
Yet, it is still difficult.
In the time leading to the event in today’s gospel, the disciples were coming to know who Jesus is. Just six days before the Transfiguration, Peter confessed Jesus as the Messiah. Good news! Actually, great news!
However, right after that, Jesus told his disciples for the first time about his coming Passion. They did not understand why the Messiah would suffer and die. They were greatly troubled by this.
Jesus knew they were troubled. He also knew what events were to come. To strengthen them, to strengthen us, He took Peter, James, and John up on the mountain. He led them. It was on his initiative, not theirs, that He did this.
It would be an amazing experience for them. What they saw on the mountain was not just the human Jesus for “He was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white.”
That day, Peter, James, and John saw Jesus in his divinity. They saw Jesus in the glory in which we will see him in Heaven. Jesus is human. Jesus is also divine. We can have faith in him.
Yet, there was more. Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus. Why? Why them in particular? Elijah was a great prophet. His presence signified that Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophets. Moses is the one who God delivered the Law through. Moses presence at the Transfiguration signified that Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law.
Knowing Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophets and the Law, we can trust in him.
Seeing all this, Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here!”
Indeed it is good that they were there. It was good for them to see this. It is good for us that their experience has been shared with us in the gospels. It helps us to know who Jesus is. It helps us to trust in him.
Did Peter, James, and John immediately understand what they were seeing? Perhaps not. In fact we are told that Peter “hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified.”
Terrified? When they scared in human terms? Perhaps. But I think was not simply human fear. While they may not have immediately understood what they experienced, they did experience it and knew it was an experience of the Lord. They were terrified but they also felt joy. Why else would Peter have said, “it is good that we are here”?
What they saw, what they experienced, gave them divine assurance.
It gives us divine assurance as we face our own suffering.
Yet, their experience on the mountain was not over. There was one more thing, the voice from the cloud saying, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Again, divine assurance.
What experiences of God have you had in your life? Did it come in a big and visible way the Transfiguration? Did you know what to say? Even now, can you put it into words or is it beyond description?
What about the little things that we barely notice in the moment or maybe don’t even recognize God’s presence in the moment? These little moments can be just as important as the big moments to strengthen us in faith. For those moments we don’t recognize at the time, it can be a good practice at the end of each day to take a moment to reflect on our day. Where was God present to us?
We are never alone. God is always with us. May we recognize God’s presence in the good moments as well as the bad and be filled with joy that transcends our sufferings.