What’s it All about?
(2nd Sunday of Lent: Genesis 22:1-18; Romans 8:31-34; Mark 9:2-10)
Today’s responsorial is taken from Psalm 116. It is a prayer of thanksgiving after a crisis. Like most psalms, it relates to our own experience. Who amongst us has never been “greatly afflicted”?
It was not only the sins of her people that caused Our Lady to come to La Salette. She was keenly aware of their afflictions as well: blighted harvests, famine, the death of children. She assured them of her unceasing prayer on their behalf.
In times of trial, we ought to be comforted by St. Paul’s words in the second reading: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” He reminds us, too, that Christ Jesus died and rose and intercedes for us.
The first reading, on the other hand, is troubling. “God put Abraham to the test,” telling him to offer his beloved son as a sacrifice! We naturally wonder why God would do such a thing. But at the end of the story he says through his angel, “I know now how devoted you are to God,” and the promise of blessing is then emphatically renewed.
What does any of this have to do with the story of the Transfiguration in the Gospel? The special Preface for the Second Sunday of Lent makes the connection. “After he had told the disciples of his coming Death, on the holy mountain he manifested to them his glory, to show... that the Passion leads to the glory of the Resurrection.”
In fact, in Matthew, Mark and Luke, just before the Transfiguration, Jesus, God’s beloved Son, predicts his passion and then adds: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
Like the Passion of Christ, all suffering can lead to glory. Abraham achieved his supreme moment of glory in his willingness to sacrifice his son if that was God’s will. He became a model for us all. But we know our weakness and would prefer not to be tested.
Mary came in light to remind us that, though we all might feel at times that we are going through our own passion, we can remain faith-filled, and then we will witness the glory of the resurrection and reap the harvest of the promises of God, and of the promises the Beautiful Lady herself made at La Salette.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.