February 29, 2012 // Uncategorized
In God we lack nothing
2nd Sunday of Lent Mk 9:2-10
The Book of Genesis is the source of this weekend’s first reading. Often, Genesis is associated with its Creation Narratives, since these particular sections of the book have prompted such warfare among those of varying opinions as to the interpretation.
However, much else is included in Genesis. A major figure is Abraham. Historians and biblical scholars agree that Abraham actually lived. He was not a myth or the product of imagination. He lived very long ago.
Historically, Jews have regarded Abraham as the first of their race. In a theological sense, Christians see Abraham as the first of their race, since Christians believe that their religion flows from the Revelation initially given by God to the Jews.
This weekend’s reading is very familiar. Abraham leads his beloved son, Isaac, to the top of a high mountain, there to kill him as a sacrifice to God. As is well known, God intervenes and orders that Isaac be spared.
The story has several lessons. One lesson, usually overlooked, is the repudiation of human sacrifice by none other than God. Human sacrifice, in and of itself forever abhorrent to Jews, was much a part of the ritual of pagans who lived around the Jews.
Another feature of pagan worship was to conduct ceremonies, including sacrifices, atop high mountains.
Therefore, beyond sparing Isaac, beyond rejecting human sacrifice, in this story God draws Abraham, and all people, away from the error of paganism. Instead, they learn from God, about the best and true order of creation. God is the best teacher, and God provides.
Isaac is a figure who, for Christians in later centuries, in a sense symbolizes Jesus. As was Isaac, Jesus was the sacrifice, killed by the ignorance and baseness of humans. However, Jesus lived. Like Isaac, Jesus did not die forever.
St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans furnishes the second reading. Always, inevitably, in his writings, Paul encouraged and reinforced his disciples in their faith. This section from Romans is no exception.
Typically straightforward and clear, this reading simply says that if the power of God, and the light of God, are with us, nothing can prevail against us.
The Gospel of Mark provides the last reading. As was the case with the reading from Genesis, this weekend’s first reading, this selection is very familiar. It is the story of the Transfiguration.
In this story, Jesus takes Peter, James and John to the summit of a high mountain. There, in an overwhelming, stupendous, even terrifying appearance, Jesus is transfigured. He becomes visible to the Apostles as the Son of God.
Light is everywhere. In the Old Testament, God is associated with light. Indeed, the presence of God constitutes the difference between darkness and light. God is the Lord of life, and of light.
Mountaintops were the places on earth nearest to heaven. In a hopeful, awkward attempt to come as close as possible to God, humans went to the tops of mountains. Indeed, the temple in Jerusalem was at the summit of Mount Zion. Jesus was crucified on a hilltop. He ascended from a hilltop.
In this reading, all earthly fogs and veils are cast down. Jesus appears in the reality of divinity. In this divinity is eternal life itself.
The presence of Moses and Elijah indicate that Jesus is fully and absolutely in the historic train of God’s communication with, and salvation of, God’s people.
The novelty of Lent has ended. This weekend, we are observing the second Sunday of the season.
Now, the Church leads us in earnest into this period to prepare for Holy Week and Easter.
Its message is simple. It is profound. God is everything. We are humans; we are limited. Always, amid our limitations, to relieve us in our limitations, God has provided.
God provided for Abraham. God spared Isaac, but only after being assured of Abraham’s unflinching faith. Faith is indispensable in our search for, and path to, God.
Faith is the opposite of selfishness and of foolishly over exaggerating our limited human abilities.
God is in Jesus. Jesus is Lord. This is the great message of the Transfiguration given us this weekend in Mark’s Gospel. It was Paul’s word to the Christian Romans. If we have Jesus, we have God. In God, we lack nothing.
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