Homily (2) 2nd Sunday Lent Year B: Fr. Michael UdoekpoReadings: Gen 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Ps 116:10, 15,16-19; Rom 8:31b-34 and Mark 9:2-10
Offering It Up To the Lord!
Lent is one of those intense liturgical times. It is a kind of a great retreat. A time of prayer and penance, when we are called to offer ourselves to the Lord: our personal feelings, our freedom, what we love, our ears and hands, our bodies, our families, jobs, our opinions, our illnesses, sufferings, pains of the loss of a loved one, fears, joys, faith, hope, and treasures to the Lord!All these are communicated in today’s Bible Lessons, beginning with the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son, Isaac to the Lord!. Abraham is a righteous man, a saddiq, because, he listened, he obeyed, he left everything in Ur and embarked on a journey of faith. Faith in the Lord was Abraham’s GPS (Gen 12ff). His journey was marked temptations such as; conflicts with Lots, his Nephew; with Abimelech over Sarah, above all the barrenness of Sarah.
When the only child, Isaac finally came, Abraham, in the first reading is, asked to offer Isaac to the Lord (Gen 22). Abraham did not “spare his son.” He offers not only his son readily and willingly, but his listening and obedient services to the Lord, at the land of Moriah. Abraham and his descendants are blessed with many gifts, for not withholding Isaac, his beloved son from the Lord, foreshadowing God’s gifts of his Son, Jesus Christ, to us.Saint Paul stresses this mystery of God’s teaching gifts and offering of himself to us through Christ, in the Roman Church, to whom he ministered. Paul says, “Brothers and sisters, if God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?”(Rom 8:31b-34).
Christ’s healing, loving and forgiving mystery up to the Cross is God’s offering and ultimate sacrifice for us. Prior to this Cross, is the Tabor experience of Christ’s transfiguration and prediction to his disciples, Peter, James and John (Mark 9:2-10). With the dazzling cloth and glorious face of Jesus, the disciples would want three tent to be built Israel’s great prophets, Elijah, Moses and Jesus. Like in the case of Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice Isaac, Peter’s proposal is met with a voice from heaven, “this is my beloved son listen to him” (Mk 9:7b, Matt 17:5).Lent is a time self-emptying. It is a time of listening to the New Moses more closely, in the Word, Scripture Readings and through the Sacraments. It is a time of sacrifice and offering up our senses, our treasures, our illness, talents, joys, fears, hope and sorrows! Making sacrifices also involves, participating in acts of evangelization, parish ministries, for the sanctification and salvation of others. It involves forming somebody we are responsible for, our children and grandchildren, our students; seeing the need to forgive generously and promptly; feeling forgiven and loved by God and our neighbors!
Sacrifices and offerings can also be expressed concretely in charitable works, in improvement of attitude and conduct, in taking side with God and promoting issues of social justice. Thus, we are invited during lent, to imitate Abraham, Paul, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Mother Mary in searching for those Lenten opportunities, in our everyday life, during which we can offer ourselves, time, and talents generously to God, through our neighbors, around us!