by: Fr. Scott Karnik
Second Sunday of Lent (B) Homily: February 25, 2018:
Today’s readings are about the sacrifice of a beloved son and its consequences. God commands Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. God proclaims His absolute dominion (rule) over every man, woman, and child, each and all of them, His special creation. That means that we have to obey God, His teachings, His values. God revokes His command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. God makes it clear that He does not want His absolute dominion over every human being to be acknowledged and executed by the actual carrying out of a human sacrifice. Think about that when you consider that almost 70 million babies have been aborted in this country since 1973. Think about that when you consider Parkland, Florida, Columbine High School, Sandy Hook, and other school shootings.
This story highlights Abraham’s absolute faith. Abraham obeys, in his heart. Abraham binds his beloved son Isaac, places him on the wood on top of the altar, and raises his knife. St. Paul writes that Abraham thought in his heart that somehow God would raise his son Isaac back to life in order to fulfill His Promise that He would make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars in the heavens and the crystals of sand on a seashore. Certainly, this is a preview of God the Father sacrificing His Son Jesus Christ on the Cross.
Jesus Christ is God’s Son. We know that from today’s gospel, which tells of Jesus’s Transfiguration. God the Father appears in a cloud. He says “this is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” For Peter, James, and John, it means to listen to Jesus, who says He must suffer, die, and rise from the dead. It is difficult for Peter, James, and John to accept that Jesus is going to be a sacrificial lamb, not a geopolitical king. Jesus Christ is a Forgiver and a Savior from sin, not a sword-swinging bad-boy. Jesus offers us salvation from what threatens each of us from inside of us. Peter, James, and John see Jesus in His Glorified Body, post-Resurrection, in the Transfiguration.
There is more. Jesus has died, risen, and ascended into heaven. Those are historical facts. We believe because we have faith. Jesus died and rose to save us. So who will deliver me/you? St. Paul says the liberator is the Holy Spirit. What is that? The Holy Spirit is the force and power of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ, present on earth. We contact that force by living in union with Jesus Christ. Union with Jesus means living like He did, thinking like He thought, serving others like He served, praying like He prayed. We are already united with Jesus in baptism. Finally, that indwelling Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will raise us up too on that day. To weld that contact with the Spirit in our souls, we must extinguish sin in our hearts, the deeds of the flesh. We must live by God’s Holy Spirit in us instead. If we do so, we become God’s true children. God will give us everything we need spiritually.
God is the only Father who has not withheld His Only-Begotten, Beloved Son from sacrifice. To ransom a slave, He gave away His Son. God the Father loves us that much. God the Son loves us that much. God the Holy Spirit loves us that much. By extension, God’s Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, loves us that much too. So what should we know? This sacrifice is a fact. We are facing the opportunity of a lifetime. What should we do? Believe the Gospel Good News and radically repent of our sins. Change. Go to confession. Go to Mass. Receive Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist. Love Him faithfully. Why should we care? Because there is no alternative for us spiritually. This is what God has done for us. This is what His love for us has prompted Him to do.