I Believe

Second Sunday of Lent

Genesis 22:1-2, 9A, 10-13, 15-18

God put Abraham to the test. He called to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am!" he replied. Then God said: "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 on a height that I will point out to you." When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the LORD's messenger called to him from heaven, "Abraham, Abraham!" "Here I am!" he answered. "Do not lay your hand on the boy," said the messenger. "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." As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son. Again the LORD's messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said: "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants shall take possession of the gates of their enemies, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth shall find blessing— all this because you obeyed my command."

Romans 8:31B-34

Brothers and sisters: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him? Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones? It is God who acquits us, who will condemn? Christ Jesus it is who died—or, rather, was raised— who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.

Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

The Catholic Catechism states, “We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives forever, so after death the righteous will live forever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day” (CCC 989). When we gather as a faith community to celebrate the Eucharist, we profess in unison, “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come” (Nicene Creed). This belief is at the heart of the mystery revealed in this Sunday’s readings.

In the first reading, “God tested Abraham” by asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Gen 22:1). Abraham’s faith is pushed to its utmost limit; however, God’s faithfulness surpasses all human inclinations. At this most trying moment in Abraham’s life, God raises up Abraham from the ashes of despair, “Because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, [...] and by your offspring shall all the nations of the earth gain blessing for themselves, because you have obeyed my voice” (Gen 22:16-18). St. Paul encourages us that nothing can separate the faithful from the love of God, not “hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword” (Rm 8:35). If we suffer and die “with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him” (Rm 6:8). The Catechism reminds us that “hope in the bodily resurrection of the dead established itself as a consequence intrinsic to faith in God as creator of the whole [person], soul and body. The creator of heaven and earth is also the one who faithfully maintains his covenant with Abraham and his posterity. It was in this double perspective that faith in the resurrection came to be expressed” (CCC 992). Abraham rises, after all, through his unshakable faith in God’s oath to him.

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus reveals his true identity to his friends, Peter, James and John, in a way that is most fantastical and astounding. He is “transfigured … his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them” (Mk 9:3). Not only is the Transfiguration a revelation of Christ’s divinity, it also foretells Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension. Jesus “reveals that he will have to go by the way of the cross at Jerusalem in order to ‘enter into his glory’. [...] the cloud indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit. The whole Trinity appeared: the Father in the voice; the Son in the man; the Spirit in the shining cloud” (CCC 555). Therefore, our resurrection, like Christ’s, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity. St. Paul reassures us that “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you (Rm 8:11). Not only has this vision strengthened the faith of Jesus’ disciples, but it has also “prepared them for the terrible struggle of which they were to be witnesses in Gethsemani” (“Catholic Encyclopedia”, www.newadvent.org). Similarly, as we struggle with life’s challenges, pain or even death of loved ones, we are also strengthened by this glorious vision of Christ’s Transfiguration.

During the season of Lent, as we remember God’s faithfulness to Abraham, may we be courageous enough to obey God’s voice, offer our failings and fear to God, and place our trust in His unconditional love. Let us pray:

We rise again from ashes,
from the good we’ve failed to do.
We rise again from ashes,
to create ourselves anew.
If all our world is ashes,
then must our lives be true,
an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

We offer you our failures,
we offer you attempts,
the gifts not fully given,
the dreams not fully dreamt.
Give our stumblings direction,
give our visions wider view,
an offering of ashes, an offering to you.

(Tom Conry “Ashes”)

Posted: February 25, 2018

Susanna Mak

 
Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.


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