A HOMILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT – CYCLE “B” – 2/25/18 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you!
We are used to people asking us to make sacrifices for them. People ask us favors all the time: Can you take me to pick up my car at the repair shop? Can my kids stay with you while I take the dog to vet? Our dryer broke, can I use yours to dry these clothes? Can I borrow a cup of sugar? Does anybody do that anymore? When the last time, somebody came to your door and wanted to borrow a cup of sugar? Remember in all the old TV shows, that was the excuse that was used, when the nosy neighbor would come over, really just wanting to know what was going on. “Can I borrow a cup of sugar?” Nobody does that today because nobody bakes like that anymore. However, we do still use a lot of sugar. The point is, that none of those things, not even borrowing a cup of sugar, is a real sacrifice. It’s not like somebody comes to our doors, regularly, and says, “Hey, give me your first born.” Now, that’s a sacrifice! Or “Give me your son or daughter!” That’s crazy! We’d call the police!
So we hear this story with God and Abraham today, and it’s a little disturbing. Today, also, God asks sacrifices of us. Especially during this season of Lent, we are showing our love of God, and especially Jesus Christ, by our sacrifices, and prayers, and almsgiving. And so we give up things like snacks, and meat, and chocolate, alcohol, and potato chips. And we know that God asks other sacrifices of us, like our time, our talents, and our treasure. But God has not shown up at our door, and asked us to sacrifice our only son, or daughter, or spouse, or best friend. That’s not even the kind of God that we know, and love, and follow, and Who has been revealed to us.
We hear the story of Abraham, and we’ve got to wonder what’s this about. Notice in the story from Genesis, that Abraham does not actually kill his son. Nor does God actually demand it. He simply tells Abraham to prepare the sacrifice. Of course, the implication is that it is to be carried out. But then God stops Abraham from harming his son. God is not playing maniacal games with Abraham. And this story isn’t about Abraham being some crazed religious fanatic who has no problem murdering his son. God tests Abraham and Abraham in a complete and utter trust and vulnerability, puts his love of God before every other things, including his only son! That’s a hard act to follow! But that’s the kind of faith that we are supposed to have!
And why? Well, the answer comes from our second reading today. In Romans, St. Paul reminds us that God, our God, “did not spare His only Son to prove how far He is willing to go for each of us.” That’s right! Abraham didn’t have to sacrifice his son, Isaac. But God the Father does sacrifice His Son, Jesus Christ, for our souls. God’s love and His faith in us, is so great, that He is not only willing to give up His Son, but on Calvary, He does it.
Before we get to Mt. Calvary, every year on the second Sunday of Lent, we hear the story of the Transfiguration. Before Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, and Pentecost, there was this extraordinary preview that was offered to Peter, James, and young John. They saw the glorified vision of the Victorious Christ after His crucifixion.
The Transfiguration was to give these three Apostles hope, so that they in turn could strengthen their brothers and sisters, and get them through the coming sacrifice. In many ways, this special vision did help them. So too, our love of God and our Faith, and our vision of the Glorified Christ in His eternal Kingdom of Heaven, also has to help us to persevere in faith. You know, just like two-thousand years ago, these are not the easiest of days to have faith, and to have a complete and utter trust in God. We must build up our faith every day, if we ever hope to get to where Abraham was, or where St. Paul was, or even where Peter, James, and John were, on that day of the Transfiguration.
And that doesn’t just happen. It is not automatic. We can’t take a pill, or order an app, or order it on Amazon. Faith must be nourished. We’ve got to build it up. We’ve got to pray. We’ve got to serve. We’ve got to keep learning. We’ve got to read the Bible. We’ve got to use the Sacraments. We can be saints! We can have faith that is out of this world! We can have the kind of faith that allows us to sacrifice anything, and know for sure that our God is STILL going to take care of us. But we’ve got to work at it. We’ve got to be involved. We’ve got to work with God, and not against Him.
In this season of Lent, let that kind of faith be our goal and our hope. The kind of trust that Abraham had, is meant for all of us. We’ve just got to work a little harder to find it.
May God bless us during this holy season, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!