2nd Sunday of Lent
Reading and praying about the readings today the idea of surprise, of astonishment came to my mind. The first reading is astonishing in that God seems to be doing something terrible in asking Abraham to sacrifice his son and also in that God seems to be contradicting his promise that Abraham would be the father of a great people. How can this be if Abraham is to kill his only Son?
Of course this is explained not just by God halting the sacrifice but by it being clear that the episode is a prophecy of Our Lord’s sacrifice of himself on the cross. But that sacrifice of Jesus.
And his resurrection is even more astonishing. We can hear the wonder in the author of the second reading when we read “after such a gift God will not refuse anything he can give.”
And then there is the wonderful gospel of the transfiguration as the disciples find themselves glimpsing the wonder of the most blessed trinity, Jesus God the Son, the cloud, God the Holy Spirit and the voice, God the Father. This experience of God leads to more than wonder and amazement, St Peter doesn’t know what to say he and the other disciples are so frightened.
During lent we will be astonished sometimes by the things God enables us to do, we will be amazed at the gifts and graces he gives us, we will also wonder at God’s love for us revealed by the sacrifice of Jesus. There may also be a bit of fear. Giving things up during lent reminds us that we do need to make sacrifices if we are to grow. In the end love of God means giving yourself to God, giving up being your own master, giving up doing things for yourself, and existing for the sake of another. That is a bit scary at first.
Don’t let the fear put you off. Note how when you do give something up, put someone else, even God first, it may cost pain or effort but it leaves you feeling happy, at one, fulfilled. When you put yourself first or fail in what you have given up it may give pleasure, be comfortable, easy but it leaves you feeling unsatisfied and regretful.
Concentrating on the times when we feel happy and fulfilled and noting what leaves us unsatisfied and regretful will help us remain faithful to our Lenten discipline.