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Scripture Study: Second Sunday of Lent

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By Marc Massery (Feb 23, 2018)
Find the readings for this Sunday here.

Sunday, Feb. 25 — Second Sunday of Lent
Genesis 22:1-2, 9A, 10-13, 15-18
• Psalm 116:10, 15, 16-17,18-19
• Romans 8L31B-34
• Mark 9:1-10

When I was about 7 years old, I was invited to a classmate's pool party that I didn't want to go to. Ashamed that I would have to reveal my potbelly in public, I didn't think I would have fun. I cried to my parents about it, but they made me go anyway and assured me that I would have fun. I swam with my friends, no one poked fun at my belly fat, and I had a blast. My parents' plans for me were better than my own. In the readings this weekend, we see how even though God's plans for us may seem frightening at times, if we only trust, He will lead us to joy.

Mount Moriah
In the first reading, from the book of Genesis, we read the famous story of Abraham, the father of faith. God had just given Abraham a son, Isaac, in his old age and promised to make him a father of many nations. But then He tells him to take Isaac to Mount Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice.

Without hesitating, Abraham climbs the mountain, builds an altar, grabs the knife, and just as he is about to slaughter his own son, God's angel intervenes. It was all a test. And because of Abraham's faithfulness, God promises not only to make him a father of many nations, but to make his "descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore" (Gen 22:17).

Even as Abraham walked up the mountain, even as he grabbed the knife to kill Isaac, he believed against hope that God would somehow spare his son. He had unwavering trust in God's plans for Isaac. Despite the apparent circumstances, He knew that God would somehow fulfill His promises.

Mount Tabor
In the Gospel reading this weekend, Christ had just revealed to the disciples that He would have to suffer, die, and then rise again. Of course, His disciples did not understand this. They hoped the Messiah would conquer, not be conquered.

Then Christ took Peter, James, and John up a high mountain, which Tradition identifies as Mount Tabor. Though Peter and the other disciples went up the mountain fearful of Christ's future suffering, at the summit they witnessed a glorified Christ accompanied by Moses and Elijah. "And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white ..." (Mk 9:2-3).

Then Peter says, "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" (Mk 9:5).

Others translate the word "terrified" as "awe-struck." Awestruck at Christ's glory, Peter did not want this moment to pass. So he offered to make a tent to house Jesus, Elijah, and Moses so that he could keep them as they were amidst Christ's glory. He did not want his master to suffer — He did not trust in God's plans for sacrifice. He wanted glory without suffering. He wanted Mount Tabor without Mount Moriah. He wanted the resurrection without the Cross.

As fallen people, we are inclined to ignore God or rebel against Him when He asks us to suffer. But God's plans for us will always bring us far more joy than our own plans. When we experience happiness in our lives, we have the tendency to try and hold onto it no matter the cost. But suffering will come to all of us if it hasn't already. Instead of rebelling against it and trying to hold on to what's in front of us like Peter, we need to remember Abraham on Mount Moriah and place all our trust in God's plans. His plans will inevitably lead us up Mount Moriah — up to the Cross. But without the Cross, without sacrifice, we cannot experience the fullness of God's grace here on earth and the joy of the resurrection in Heaven.

Climbing Mount Moriah will cost us much. But in the midst of our suffering, He will give us the strength and peace we need to persevere, whatever He has planned.

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