God, do you have to be so specific? Second Sunday in Lent – Genesis 22:1-2,9,10-13,15-18/Mark 9:2-10
How easy our life would be if God was vague in his demands of us. Vagueness gives you the ability to find a way to slither out of a tough call. But God is ‘annoyingly’ specific when he makes demands of us and no matter how we choose to interpret his call, in our heart, we know what he demands of us specifically.
God was specific with Abraham, “Take YOUR son, your ONLY child ISAAC, whom YOU LOVE, AND GO to the land of MORIAH. There you shall OFFER him as a BURNT OFFERING, on a mountain I WILL POINT out to you.” This was crystal clear and perhaps Abraham would have wished God to be even a wee bit vague because this was a death sentence he had to carry out and it was his son whom he loved that God wanted sacrificed.
The Gospel of today may seem to distract us from the harsh reality of the first reading. It may seem to smoothen the specific demands of God by focusing on the transfiguration, by focusing on Moses and Elijah and the dazzling clothes of Jesus. But make no mistake, this text is sandwiched by two other texts which are in your face. Jesus predicts his passion death and resurrection just before the transfiguration (Mark 8:31) and immediately after this text (Mark 9:31) and still again in 10:32. And just the turn of the page of the Bible or simply complete chapter ten and you will find Jesus entering into Jerusalem to die on the cross. The theme of the second Sunday in Lent cannot be softened no matter how much you try
The readings of today make God sound cruel, harsh and extremely demanding. But God himself was to offer his son for the sacrifice of the world and this time there was nothing that stopped God’s hand. No substitute ram took the place of Christ. He is the lamb of God who took away the sins of the world by dying on the cross. Like Abraham, this was also God’s son. Like Abraham, this was God’s ONLY son. Like Abraham, this was God’s beLOVED son but unlike Abraham, no ram took Jesus’ place; this was THE LAMB OF GOD and he had to take away the sins of the world. He is the perfect sacrifice that could not be replaced by any other sacrifice.
The readings of today are not easy to digest. My hands tremble as I type these words. We feel a sense of fear that our God could also demand the same from us and it is rather likely that you and I may fail this test when comes our turn. Yet, many in this time, in this history, have lived this mystery of God. Like the Psalmist of today, they too ‘have trusted even when they are sorely afflicted.’ How many parents have since had to ‘sacrifice’ a young son or daughter to God’s will; a will they perhaps even now have resigned themselves to but cannot remotely fathom?
Sit back, pray for grace, that when the moment comes you may say, “Father, if it is your will, let this cup of suffering pass me by, but let your will not mine be done.”