for Sunday, February 25, 2018
Let us give all to the Lord and receive from the Lord whatever He sends us. That is the invitation of the readings today. Give all and receive whatever is given back.
Although we want to give all the Lord, we often find that what the Lord wants of us seems more than we can give. Most of us don't have the faith that we see in Abraham in the first reading today from the Book of Genesis. We should recognize that even the early Christian commentators on this passage found it difficult. Would God actually ask a father to kill his own son? This is God asking something immoral from a human. The only answer to this difficulty is that God does not actually, in the end, ask Abraham to kill his own son.
The point of the account in Genesis is not about God asking Abraham to do something immoral, but about Abraham being willing always to do the will of God. Abraham is called "our father in faith" because of his complete dedication to doing whatever God asks of him.
We may doubt at times what God might ask of us. We find it difficult to accept the evil that is in our world, the bad things that happen to good people, the atrocities against people that go unpunished, the school shootings. Always people ask how a good God can allow such evils to happen. Yet such questions are truly not about God but about us humans with our sinfulness. We are broken beings who don't always choose what is right and good. God gave us this freedom. And we misuse our freedom.
The real question is this: why don't we humans always choose what is good and what is right? The only answer is that something is broken in us. What do we do about the brokenness? All the laws in the world are unable to redeem us and to force us to choose good. Only salvation from God brings about a true conversion.
And how difficult that is! The Letter to the Romans, from which is taken the second reading today, speaks to this problem: "Christ Jesus it is who died-or, rather, was raised-who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us." The only way of redemption is to embrace the path of God, who gave His own Son for us.
The Gospel today, from Saint Mark, is the account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus is changed in front of his own followers, at least some of them, so that they can believe that He is truly God even when they see Him undergo crucifixion. At the heart of our Christian believing is this deep awareness that Jesus is born for us, that Jesus dies for us and that Jesus has indeed been raised to life for us. This is not a philosophical argument but an experienced reality of the early Christians that we later Christians have come to see as true because of their testimony.
So our readings today are clear: seek to do the will of God in all things, believe that Christ died and was raised from the dead for us and see in the Transfiguration of Christ that we also can be transfigured by our complete belief in Him. Let us give all to the Lord and receive from the Lord whatever He sends us.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Genesis 22.1-2, 9-13, 15-18
Second Reading: Romans 8.31b-35, 37++
Gospel: Mark 9.2-10
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: